August was a pretty crazy month, with me finishing the draft of my Monster Shark book, and a detailed outline for the rest of Atomic Tales: Strange Invaders and 6 episodes of that series, plus a number of distracting (and sometimes difficult) life issues. What does all this have to do with July’s Mini-Reviews, you ask? Well, with all that going on, I not only failed to notice when an episode of Atomic Tales was inexplicably delayed by my server, but I also thought I had completed the July reviews, when in fact I had done no such thing!
in any case, we’ve got a pile of cool SERIES as well as SHARK WEEK waiting below.
So, let’s get to it…
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.
Stranger Things (S4) **** Super-ambitious season takes a LONG time to get the characters back together, but goes high-end on SPFX & action. Good fun.
Rocket Man, The (1954) *** Boy with space ray gun uses various powers to foil a crooked politician & aid two lovers & a reformed convict. Standard kid stuff.
Loretta Young Show “Earthquake” *** Loretta plays a housewife who’s husband is in an iron lung recovering from polio when an earthquake kills the power. Strong acting.
Night Fright (1967) ** Muddy cinematography on the monster scenes hurts this low-budget flick with John Agar as sheriff trying to thwart a space beast.
Day the Dead Walked the Earth *** Fan re-cut of Invisible Invaders turns the 50s shocker into something more like Night of the Living Dead. Amusing.
Golden Mistress, The (1954) ** John Agar & friend use a stolen voodoo idol to hunt down a tribal treasure in gold. Not badly filmed adventure but very standard.
Monkees, The (S1) **** It’s fascinating to watch this series figure out its own direction from its Beatles-like roots. Charming, zany, often funny, great music.
Endeavour (S8) ***** Morse’s self-destructive traits start to undercut his effectiveness in this penultimate series. Fun Old Dark House final mystery.
Ghost in the Shell SAC 2045 (S2) *** Transhuman androids seem out to replace humanity while the US battles the Major’s Japanese forces. This series is messy & sometimes confusing as we seemingly lose characters we like early on to the show’s detriment. Ends on a very spacey, surreal note.
Strange New Worlds (S1) ***** The Star Trek sequel series finally capture some of the original magic in this prequel show with a strong cast, stories reminiscent of the original, & modern makeup and SPFX. Probably the best Trek since the first. Pike, Una & crew rule!
No Time to Die *** Daniel Craig’s final James Bond film tries some new things but bloated, familiar plot makes us care less about the unusual ending.
Horror of It All, The (1983) **** Jose Ferrer narrates this survey of horror films, highlighted by interviews with filmmakers like Roger Corman.
Devil Fish (MST3K) *** Unmemorable Italian film about creating a hybrid devil fish-monster that attacks divers made more tolerable by Mike & the bots.
Demons of Ludlow, The *** A cursed piano/harpsichord brings back ghosts to haunt the residents of Ludlow & kill them in this Bill Rebane low-budget horror.
Devonsville Terror, The **** Three liberated women working in Devonsville are suspected to be reincarnated witches by hick townspeople. Horror ensues.
Ape Man, The (blu-ray) *** The blu-ray looks great, but the story is still Bela Lugosi killing for spinal fluid to try to reverse experiment that left him an ape-man.
Doomed to Die (blu-ray) *** Boris Karloff plays Mr. Wong trying to help couple from rival families solve shipping disasters & murder. Blu-ray print dirty & faded.
Deadly Mantis, The (Sven) **** This giant bug movie may not be as good as Tarantula, but I love the story of the giant mantis wreaking havoc just the same.
MS Marvel (S1) ***** Pakistani-American Muslim girl gains powers & emulates her hero, Captain Marvel, in this heartfelt family-oriented series. Superior.
Sharkfighters, The *** Victor Mature as tough Navy man sent to speed up development of shark repellant used in WWII. Not bad. Needs HD print.
Killer Shark (1950) ** Roddy McDowall tries shark fishing after causing dad’s injury & possibly losing family boat. Cliche. Ends with comic fisticuffs.
Shark’s Treasure *** Cornel Wilde wrote & directed tale of grumpy captain, callow youth, & friends finding treasure & pirates in 1970s-style adventure.
Last of the Pagans ** Island native lovers are separated when man is kidnapped to work in mines & woman must marry chief. South Seas romance.
Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom *** Early on a dinosaur adventure, later a horror picture, this sequel works better than I first thought. And… DINOSAURS!
In Search of Dracula with Mark Gatiss ***** Gatiss, writer of a recent Dracula series, takes us on an interesting & comprehensive tour of Dracula in the movies.
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979 Eng) **** Klaus Kinsky is creepy & locations & costumes admirable in this Herzog re-imagining that’s much brighter than I expected.
Leptirica (1973 – Serbia) **** Very low budget film about a reincarnated vampire among a traditional/sexist village in Serbia. Strong ideas, scenes & climax.
Wizard of Oz, The (1925) ** Only the title invokes the books, as the characters are all just costumes worn by other characters. Production OK, but racist scenes.
It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955 color) **** Colorization by the master himself is great in this Harryhausen flick about a giant octopus threatening San Francisco. Good fun.
Neptune’s Daughter *** Red Skelton shines in Esther Williams’ musical comedy where Skelton is confused by 2 sisters with Ricardo Montalban. The song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is popularized by 2 duets (& role reversal), but there’s surprisingly little swimming save at end.
Captain Nemo & the Underwater City (1969) **** Kid-friendly family fantasy of Capt. Nemo rescuing people & taking them to his undersea kingdom. Naturally, not all want to stay.
From the Earth to the Moon (1958) *** Low-budget production wrings what it can out of Verne story, but it’s carried by aging stars Hull & Sanders. Slow at times.
Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, The (S3) ** Is this 10 episodes or 11? It apparently depends on how many weeks you want to advertise a “season finale.” Ep.11 is called a “special” online, & if you watch it, you can avoid the rest of this show’s 3 seasons, where strange phenomena & weird results are seldom fully followed up. But, boy, there sure is a lot of strange “unexplainable” stuff! Lack of scientific follow-up really soured me by season’s end, especially since 1st “finale” was half clips & 2nd ALL clips. Let’s have more SCIENCE!
Curse of the Demon (US cut) **** Dana Andrews’ scientist has the runes, which is why a demon is out to kill him – or is it his imagination. Shorter US cut still great.
Zero Hour *** Dan Andrews is traumatized WWII pilot who must fly airplane safely over mountains in this film that AIRPLANE was based on.
Sea Chase, The *** John Wayne as German (!) ship captain trying to return home at start of WWII. Watch for buff James Arness as crewman. Enjoyable.
Below the Sea (1933) *** Fay Wray’s heiress bankrolls undersea mission not knowing that some crew are seeking sunken gold. Giant octopus fight!
Warlords of Atlantis (1978) *** Rubber suit monsters, including a giant octopus, highlight this Doug McClure film of mariner stranded in undersea kingdom.
Isle of Fury (1936) *** Humphrey Bogart tries to keep his pearl-diving business & new marriage alive, despite handsome stranger. Octopus fight!
Horror of Party Beach (1964) *** Radioactive waste creates berserk gill-man monsters from corpses in this low-budget film. Better than its rep, especially the music.
Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory *** The werewolf makeup is pretty marginal & the dorm is actually a reform school. Pretty good Euro horror, not as sexy as advertised.
Brides of Dracula (Sven) **** There is no Dracula, but there’s a brilliant Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, a hapless heroine, & a pretty damn good vampire film.
Shark Week 2022 Sunday **** Good start to the week, but give Jackass a pass. Return to Headstone Hell ***, Great White Battleground ****, Jackass 2.0 **, Great White Open Ocean *****
Shark Week 2022 Monday **** Another good night, save for the continuing “Serial Killer” series, which forces everything into its absurd premise. Stranger Sharks ****, Air Jaws: Top Guns ****, Great White Serial Killer *, Rise of the Monster Hammerheads ****, Megapredators of OZ ****
Shark Week 2022 Tuesday **** Despite the an excellent start, a not-very-funny comedy show & two “vs” shows drag the Tuesday average down. Extinct or Alive: Jaws of Alaska *****, Impractical Jokers Shark Week Spectacular **, Jaws vs. Kraken ***, Pigs vs. Sharks ***, Raging Bulls ****
Shark Week 2022 Wednesday **** With the “Island…” the best show of the week and only one middling show, this was a VERY strong night. Shark Rober ****, Island of the Walking Sharks *****, MechaShark Love Down Under ***, Mission Shark Dome ****, Great White Comeback *****
Shark Week 2022 Thursday ***** Two GREAT shows & an actually funny clip show with science make this a very strong night of this year’s Shark Week. Tracy Morgan presents Sharks! with Tracy Morgan ****, Shark House ****, Monster Mako Under the Rig *****, Tiger Queen *****,
Lost Continent, The (1968) *** Hammer’s adaptation of the Wheatley’s “Uncharted Seas” removes the racism & adds some fantasy for a strange but amusing mix.
Shark Week 2022 Friday ***** With only excellent shows, 2022’s Friday night was one of the best nights of Shark Week ever. Jaws vs. the Blob *****, Clash of Killers: Great White vs. Mako *****, Shark Women: Ghosted by Great Whites *****, The Great Hammerhead Stakeout *****
Monster that Challenged the World, The **** Really cool practical effects mollusk monsters (with giant pincers) menace the Salton Sea’s people & military base. Creepy cool.
Phantom Lake Kids in the Day the Earth Abruptly Almost Ended, The **** Christopher R. Mihm’s non-Scooby Gang kids are back to save Phantom Lake from a growing menace from a cave. Family fun.
Shark Week 2022 Saturday ***** Only two new shows on Saturday, but the 2022 Shark Week still finishes strong. Monsters of the Cape ****, Sharks in Paradise *****
Devil’s Rain, The (+Sven) *** Yes, it’s silly, but it has some great stars being silly & some truly eerie sequences & a great SPFX ending. Watched blu then Sven.
And that’s the delayed report for July, 2022, including a pile of watching for Shark Week (but only counted as 1 entry per day) as well as a lot of good series. I hope you enjoy them. Count for the month is 53 (quite a number, even with just counding days of Shark Week) – with the Yearly Total now up to 298 films, series, and other noteworthy watching.
Next Month: Well, really this month, as we’re catching up for July and also doing August in September.
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