Film Mini-Reviews December 2017 – The Gorgon to Shadow of the Thin Man

Well, now we know…  We know how many films I watch in a year — or at least, in this one, particular year, 2017:


That’s a lot.  Fewer than my wife and I thought I might hit (600), but a lot more than I would have guessed at the start of the year (250-300).  As my daughter said: “It helps explain the size of your collection.”  Or, as one recent visitor observed: “Did you used to own a Blockbuster?”

Nope.  I probably have more movies than most Blockbusters did.

If my rate of watching hadn’t fallen off in the last 3-4 months of the year, I might actually have hit 600.  But, I also found that keeping such careful track was something of a burden; it made me determined to finish films I might not have, otherwise.  It also kept me watching films when I maybe would have watched something else (Dark Shadows).  Though I did watch all 8 seasons of Mannix during the year, as well as the usual raft of SF/F/H genre shows that my wife and I indulge in.

So, this year (2018), I’m going to relax more about all that.  I especially want to re-watch more Dark Shadows.  Not only is it my favorite TV show of all time, but it was/is also a huge influence on my work.  And, several friends on Facebook have fairly recently started watching the whole series for the first time.  (I almost envy them.  This will probably be my 3rd time through most episodes — and some as many as 5-6 times.)

By the way, one of the main reasons I’m doing this again in 2018 is that, when asked, people said they really liked it.  So, don’t be shy about saying so and sharing with friends, etc.

And I’m thinking of maybe doing an Alphabetical Recap of the whole of 2017.  What do you think?

Ratings are out of 5 stars.

Gorgon, The **** Spirit of Medusa haunts a lonely village. Cushing, Lee, Ripper, & Barbara Shelley. Great classic Hammer.
Plague of the Zombies *** Old style zombie film about a man killing villagers so they can work his zombie mine. More strong Hammer.
Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde *** Strong premise, but a little rougher around the edges than usual Hammer. Martine Beswick is fun as Hyde.
Atomic Brain, The (MST3K) **** Low-budget fun without MST3K, add in Mike & the bots and it turns funny as well. Get the non-funny blu, too.
Deep Space ** 80s Fred Olen Ray alien cockroach-thing comes to Earth and tears up a bunch of people. Not too terrible.
Corpse Vanishes, The (MST3K) *** Bela kidnaps women to restore his crazed wife’s youth. Early Joel & bots action enhances poverty row flick.
Lady and the Monster, The (1944) ** First “Donovan’s Brain” adapation is good, until it slips into voice over for things you should see. Still okay.
Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism *** A bit less lurid than the title suggests. Echoes Black Sunday & other Euro fiend-returns flicks. Lee & cast good.
Brain, The (1962) ** “Donovan’s Brain” without the name & a dash of murder mystery. Not bad, but could use a better print.
Rabid ** Marilyn Chambers revives from a coma as carrier of rabies-like infection. Romero-like Cronenberg. Uneven.
Cinderella’s Hot Night ** Not nearly enough magic in this flick, but plenty of lovely nude bodies with the modernized fairy tale plot.
Ice Age: Collision Course ** Kids will probably dig the low comedy of this sequel in a series now packed wtih too many characters to follow.
Black Magic *** Orson Welles is Cagliostro plotting to replace/overthrow Marie Antoinette in this tale of deception & mesmerism.
Mummy’s Curse, The (Sven) *** Rewatch on Svengoolie. Sure, there’s a lot of re-used footage & plot, but the resurrection scene is worth it.
Tales of Earthsea *** Studio Gibli adapts the classic LeGuin fantasy world into a fable about family, fate, responsibility, & immortality.
Deepwater Horizon **** Heroic action is required as something goes Horribly Wrong on a Gulf of Mexico drilling platform. Compelling.
Stranded in Space (MST3K) aka The Stranger *** Decent TV movie about a duplicate earth hobbled by 1980s/90s VHS edit & “saved” by Joel & the bots.
Being from Another Planet (MST3) aka Time Walker *** VHS 1980s/90s retitled film about a mummified space traveler run amok. Joel & the bots add the fun factor.
Queen of Blood *** Corman’s co. used Eastern Bloc movie parts & SFX to enhance story of “rescuing” deadly alien. Highly creepy.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi **** Heroes are back, more are added, & Star Wars gets emotionally complex with spectacular SFX in 8th SW flick.
Black Cat, The (Sven) ***** Bela’s the damaged good guy confronting Karloff the satanist in this twisted horror classic. Great film.
Unearthly, The (MST3K) *** Mad scientist accidentally creates monsters trying to extend life. MST3K makes it more fun than it is.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens *** Sure, it’s too much like the original, but it has 4 strong new main characters & lots of cool stuff & visuals. Fun.
Theseus and the MInotaur **** One of Kennedy’s best. A fine tribute to Harryhausen & sword & sandal films. (I helped with some scenes.)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (rewatch) **** Even more impressive on second viewing. It helps correct past mistakes & points toward a bright SW future.
Hercules Unchained (MST3K) *** Steve Reeves shows off his muscles & falls for a seductive sorceress while Joel & the Bots trade quips.
Theseus and the MInotaur (rewatch) **** Rewatch with Director’s Commentary, which is fun, too.
Invisible Woman, The (Sven) *** A fine cast highlights this comedic twist on the Invisible Man story.
Doctor Who: Pyramids of Mars **** Movie version of the classic serial with Tom Baker & Elisabeth Sladen. The Doctor & Sarah in top-notch form.
Christmas Homecoming *** Julie Benz & Michael Shanks shine in this Hallmark Christmas romance of a war widow & a returning vet.
Scrooge (1951) ***** Alistair Sim is the best Scrooge ever in this perfect adaptation of A Christmas Carol. If you only watch 1, this 1.
Christmas Story, A ***** McGavin, Dillon, & Billingsly are fab in Clark’s perfect adaptation of Shepherd’s classic Christmas BB gun story.
Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol **** Silly & marginally animated, but a lot of fun with a strong score. Great kids’ intro to the Dickens classic.
Littlest Angel, The *** Hasn’t aged well. The SFX/blue screen is painfully primitive. Worth it for nostalgia, good cast, & decent music.
Godzilla vs. the Thing (El Rey) ***** Even with commercial interruptions, this is one of the best kaiju films & features the first G. vs. Mothra faceoff.
Downsizing **** Matt Damon & company do a good job exploring their premise of literally shrinking people to save the Earth.
Godzilla’s Revenge (El Rey) *** If they play these on TV, I will re-watch them. And this one is okay if you see it as a kid’s fantasy.
Godzilla Raids Again (El Rey) ** The American cut of this film weakens it considerably. But I’m still happy to re-watch.
Shape of Water, The **** Del Torro’s imperfect Creature from the Black Lagoon love letter is brilliantly made 60s magical realism.
Sign of Zorro, The *** Movie version of the Disney TV series is episodic but still fun. Guy Williams makes a fine Zorro.
Story of Robin Hood, The *** Disney does a really fine take on the Robin Hood legend & It’s not animated, either.
Pete’s Dragon (1978) *** All the pieces are there, but this Mary Poppins-style musical with animation feels overlong & a bit hollow.
Doctor Cyclops **** Superior SFX shrink humans to the size of dolls in this 1940 classic SF-horror mad doctor flick. In color!
Brain of Morbius, The *** Wacky brain in a jumble-monster body gets extra points for this movie version of Tom Baker Doctor Who tale.
Lego Batman Movie, The **** Action-packed, funny, & with heart as well, this continues the Lego Hit Parade with Batman as headliner.
Kubo and the Two Strings **** Amazing stop-motion animation & the heart of Japanese fable in an original story makes this a big winner.
Moana **** Near-princess Disney tale. Cheiftan’s rebellious daughter saves her Pacific Island home with rogue demi-god.
Shadow of the Thin Man **** Not as good as the early ones, but still great Nick & Nora byplay with a double murder & solid denoeument.


And that’s it for 2017!  Tune in next month for the start of 2018 (over 40, as I write this).  And let me know if you want that Alphabetical Recap!

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



About Steve Sullivan 418 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).