June 2019 Mini-Reviews – Nightmare Alley to Endeavour: Confection

Busy June included a great trip to see friends, meet stars, and take in a few movies at Monster Bash, but only yielded 27 films total — one of my lower count.  Some family issues/drama in the midst certainly didn’t help, and catching up with Daredevil and Good Omens certainly cut into my movie-watching time, too.  Plus, time just ran out at the end of the month, despite my annual Ray Harryhausen’s Birthday day-long movie watching binge.

Life happens!

Total for the first 6 months of movie watching in 2019 is 140 — which might seem like a lot for some people, but is almost a snail’s pace compared to my last couple of  years.  Is this the “New Normal”?

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.

Nightmare Alley **** Tyrone Power’s ruthless carny mentalist uses people & sleazes his way to the top, but it’s not all he hoped. Noir.
Giant Spider Invasion, The *** Low-budget shot in Wisconsin SF/Horror film has good cast, including “Skipper,” & is more fun than you’d think.
Kingdom of the Spiders *** Shatner is a country doctor with complicated family & love life made worse by spider invasion. Like a good TV flick.
Princess from the Moon **** Kon Ichikawa directs Toshiro Mifune & company in fine mix of Japanese legend & Spielbergian SF from the 80s.
Dark Phoenix **** Jean Grey’s heroism leads the X-Men back into conflict with the government & Jean’s new persona. Good X-Film!
Predator, The *** A bit long & sometimes a mess, but colorful cast, action, & Olivia Munn kicking ass make this Predator film fun.
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (Sven) *** Allison Hayse is a drunkard who becomes titanic when mixed with aliens & revenges self on cheating husband.
Woman Who Came Back, The *** Woman becomes convinced that she’s reincarnation of deadly witch after surviving a bus crash. Good but Scooby.
Endeavour: Pylon **** Missing girl turns up posed in a field with flowers in her hair. Demoted Morse must unravel the twisty crime(s).
Dead Reckoning **** Bogart gets caught up with Lizabeth Scott (no Bacall, but fatale) in tough-guy thriller with a few noir twists. Fun.
Man in Half Moon Street, The *** Man saps the lives of others to remain immortal with the help of his (mad) doctor friend. Dorian Gray-like, but slow.
Gorgon, The **** Great cast, sets, cinematography help lift this Hammer film above its somewhat muddled story & marginal SFX.
Monkey’s Paw, The (1933) *** Extended version of the classic tale starts with fakirs in India & ends with the familiar 3 disasterous wishes.
Ghost in the Monastery (1934) aka El Fantasma del Convento *** A couple & friend spend the night in eerie monastery. 2 plan adultery, but the ghosts show them error of their ways.
Mask of Fu Manchu, The **** Boris Karloff & Myrna Loy chew the scenery in yellow face in this classic yellow peril melodrama. Dated great fun.
House of the Gorgon, The (rewatch) **** Joshua Kennedy’s direction & fine cast of Hammer stars help overcome low budget & week-long shoot schedule.
Magic Sword, The *** Bert I. Gordon’s SFX work well in this family fantasy with hero, princess, & plenty of monsters including dragon.
Invisible Agent **** Heir of the Invisible Man fights against Nazis & with lovely Ilona Massey. Invisible SFX in this are great. Story fun.
Return of Doctor X, The *** Bogart plays a ghoulish living-dead man in this strange comedy-crime-thriller from Warners. Worth a look once.
Ray Harryhausen, The Early Years ***** Ray’s work isn’t as polished, but this brilliant DVD collection shows his roots as well as unmade projects. 1st rate.
Three Worlds of Gulliver, The **** Not as many “creatures” as one usually likes in a Harryhausen, but the miniature FX are stunning as is the score.
It Came from Beneath the Sea *** Harryhausen’s monster movies set the standard for such tales. This one has giant octopus attacking Frisco.
20 Million Miles to Earth **** Venusian monster is brought to earth, grows enormous, & runs loose in Rome. Great monster design. Good story.
Clash of the Titans (1980) **** Ray’s last film isn’t his best, but the Medusa sequence is one of his finest & there are great other moments, too.
Small Foot **** Yeti Migo discovers mythical humans are living below his cloud-shrouded mountain. Far better than expected.
Endeavour: Apollo **** Seeming crash, turns 1st into murder-suicide & then something much more complex, with super-marionettes.
Endeavour: Confection **** Poison pen letters lead to a series of murders that Morse must solve amid creeping corruption at his new job.


July starts out with some home construction.  So who knows what the total may end up being?  And I’m starting to get the itch to do some serious Dark Shadows (re)watching.  If I do that, it will definitely cut into my movie time.  But it’s been too long since I’ve immersed myself in DS.

See you next month to see how that turns out!

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!

About Steve Sullivan 420 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).