Holy Cats! It’s time for the November reviews, and we’re almost to Christmas already! Where is the time going?!
Well, as usual, a lot of it is going into watching movies (and such)! The tally this month includes three family-friendly series — Stargirl, Supergirl, and The Mysterious Benedict Society — some classics I haven’t seen, a few very good Harold Lloyd films (no surprise), a bunch of Torchy Blain films, my wife starting our 1000 Great Films viewings (see if you can spot ’em), a pair of my favorite PBS mystery series, and more than a few Netflix discoveries — including Locke & Key and League of Legends: Arcane. Oh, and did I mention The Beatles’ Get Back? Check out all that and more below!
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.
Trip to the Moon, A (1902) ***** Recent color restoration of the classic Georges Méliès fantasy/SF tale is something to behold. (Withouth voiceover, too!)
Stargirl (S2) ***** Stargirl bounces between light & dark as the young Justice Society battle Eclipso, the Shade, & more. Strong 2nd season.
Mysterious Benedict Society (S1) ***** Eccentric genius recurits quirky children to help him thwart plans to subvert the world. Delightful quirky characters & situations.
Frankenstein vs. the Space Monster (Sven) *** Super cheap film with clever idea of a space-age Frankenstein monster battling space aliens who want our women. Goofy fun.
Hell Night *** Slasher film about co-ed hazing in a house “haunted” by mutant family. Has some unique twists & turns. Linda Blair.
Assignment Terror *** Naschy’s messy 2nd werewolf film has echoes of Plan 9 (aliens) but werewolf, mummy, vampire & Frankenstein monster. Still fun
Passage to Marseilles **** Bogart, Lorre, & convicts escape penal colony to fight for the Free French in WWII. Echoes of Casablanca. Sidney Greenstreet.
Conflict *** Bogart plots to kill wife & marry her sister. Things go wrong when wife’s body doesn’t turn up & he starts seeing her. Over plotted.
Adventurous Blonde, The **** 3rd Torchy Blane film has reporter & fiance Detective McBride caught up in hoax murder that turns into the real thing. Glenda Farrell & Barton MacLane are delightful as the main characters.
Shock! (1946) **** Woman witnesses Vincent Price commit murder & then winds up a patient in his insane asylum for “treatment.” Good suspense.
Clerks **** Kevin Smith’s low budget comedy about a day in the life of convenience store clerks rings with true-life experience.
Devil Bat, The **** Lugosi is a mad doctor seeking revenge for mistreatment by sending a giant bat to kill his enemies. See a good print.
Black Raven, The *** George Zucco is a reformed(?) gangster running an inn full of shady characters, plus 2 lovebirds, where a judge is killed.
Munster Go Home (Sven) *** The Munsters inherit a “haunted” mansion in England where Herman is a lord. Usually fun silliness ends with an auto race.
Supergirl (S6 – Final) *** Return of old cast members in the Finale caps a season that has WB DC’s usual story/character problems. Finale ends well.
Among Those Present (1921) **** Harold Lloyd is a bellhop hired to impersonate an English Lord at fancy party. Lots of fun bits including lengthy underwear scenes.
I Do (1921) *** Harold Lloyd’s travails as a married man looking after in-laws’ kids while there may be a dangerous burglar on the loose.
Never Weaken (1921) **** Harold Lloyd tries to win the love of a woman despite travails. Suicide attempt sequence that is creepy nowadays is more than balanced by hilarious construction site sequence foreshadowing Lloyd’s masterpiece Safety Last from 1923.
Blood Match ** Martial artist kidnaps 4 colleagues involved with his brother’s murder & forces them to fight him to the death. Low budget.
Strange Illusion **** Young man dreams of his father’s death & things to come in suspenseful low-budget noir thriller directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.
Shang-Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings ***** Marvel martial arts epic with Shang-Chi (The Master of Kung Fu) kicks some serious ass from San Francisco to Macao to a mythical land of dragons & monsters. Early Bus Fight is a highlight, but plenty action through the very end of the credits. Michelle Yeoh & Tony Leung add martial arts cred to a cast of Marvel newcomers. Has some MCU cameos, too.
Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, The *** Low-budget John Agar monster film has Hyde as a type of “werewolf,” but Edgar G. Ulmer’s direction makes it interesting.
Rashomon ***** A trial, a rape, & a murder… But who can you believe about what happened? Kurosawa’s classic still as powerful as at its premiere.
Emperor Jones, The *** Paul Robeson is magnificent & even does some singing in this flick about falling from grace adapted from O’Neil play. Dated.
Penn & Teller Get Killed *** Penn & Teller work their crazy, gory magic on each other, but end up being stalked by an assassin. Goofy fun with black twists.
Blondes at Work *** Torchy & Steve (Farrell & MacLane) struggle with their romance when Steve’s Chief tries to stop Torchy getting scoops. Fun.
Torchy Blain in Panama *** New actors playing Torchy & her Skipper tackle bad guys on the way to & through the Panama Canal. Not bad despite new cast.
Locke & Key (S1) **** The Locke family inherits a house where mystical keys with magic powers appear at random & are sought by a demonic being.
Stranger, The **** Orson Welles is a Nazi hiding out in a small town & about to marry a Supreme Court judge’s daughter until an old friend arrives…
Detour **** A hitchhiker’s life goes very wrong when he gets picked up by the wrong man, then later picks up the wrong woman. Classic noir.
Baptiste (S2) ***** A brutal terrorist plot & kidnapping drags Baptiste & a British diplomat through the wringer as they try to find her missing son.
Grantchester (S6) ***** Will, Geordie, & especially Leonard get put through the wringer after a vacation goes wrong & battle back the rest of the season.
Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror **** In the 1st Waldemar Daninsky film our hero becomes a werewolf & battles vampires. Amazing 1st flick for Naschy looks great.
League of Legends – Arcane (S1) **** Based on a video game, this Netflix series follows 2 super-powered sisters in a Metropolis-like overcity-undercity conflict. Dark.
Lured *** Karloff’s part is sadly brief, but he lights up the screen in this story of Lucille Ball (!) becoming an undercover cop to catch a killer.
Dean Martin: King of Cool **** Affectionate biopic looks at the life of singer, actor, comedian Dean Martin through partnership with Jerry Lewis & beyond.
Cowboy Bepob (Live – S1) **** Based on the classic anime, the actors & music are top notch. Longer story sometimes struggles, but deserved a 2nd season.
King Kong vs. Godzilla (Sven) **** This classic monster bash is lighthearted (with satiric overtones) & is fun for the whole family as the iconic beasts face off.
Mask of Dimitrios, The *** The life story of a supposedly dead scoundrel is told in Citizen Kane style flashbacks. Peter Lorre & Sidney Greenstreet stand out.
Varan the Unbelievable (US) ** The monster is very cool, but the American inserts make this Toho treat MST3K fodder. Catch the better Japanese version.
Frankenstein’s Daughter ** Low budget monster story has cool 50s touches but is dragged down by makup job where artist wasn’t told creature was female.
Devil’s Rain, The (Sven) **** Ernest Borgnine is the leader of a devil cult & William Shatner is one of his victims in this “cult classic” with unforgettable ending.
Torchy Gets Her Man *** Clever counterfeiter tricks the cops into believing he’s a government agent while running a scam that only Torchy sees through.
Get Back (Parts 1-3, complete) ***** The Beatles struggle with a crazy album & concert project in this Peter Jackson doc that runs nearly 8 hours. A must see for fans!
Mihmiverse Christmas Special **** The space puppets return to Earth for help when their evil queen gets loose & kidnaps Santa Claus. Super-fun kid stuff.
Lust in the Dust *** Divine & Tab hunter meet in the Old West while trying to find a lost treasure. By turns funny, bawdy, & gross. Divine fans will like.
Skidoo *** Hot mess of a psychedellic 60s film with Jackie Gleason as a reformed gangster doing one last job for his boss, Groucho Marx. Comedy miss with an all start cast including Carol Channing in see-through undies. Body painting LSD tripping. Weirdly fun.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045 (S1) *** Computer animated series involves heroes getting tangled up in US counter-espionage & then into mysterious deaths. Continued…
Wow. So, that’s it — another butt-load of stuff watched this month. How much? Let’s count… 1… 2… 3… I get 47, which is a lot, though nowhere near last month’s 60+. Of course, I watched a LOT more series than usual in November — and that trend may continue into December. The Grand Total is now 607 films for 2021. Broke 600 again. Yay! Will I break 700 by the end? I doubt it, but maybe 650 is within reach. And in either case, I have to look up my previous record. I hope you’ll be here with me.
Next Month: December winds down the year with possibly the most films/series/notable shorts I’ve ever watched. And of course, I remain tuned into the Monster Kid Movie Club every Saturday and most Tuesdays to pump up my count. 😀 But the streaming total also ramps up as The Witcher returns, and I find some new, unexpected things to watch, too. But until then…
Stay Safe! Get Vaccinated! Tell your family & friends! Let’s End the Pandemic ASAP!
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