Before reading any of these reviews, please note the following.
First and foremost: All these reviews contain spoilers. I'm interested in discussing the film as a unit, as it exists and as it is available for viewing. I'm not really interested in whetting (or dampening) your enthusiasm to see a particular work. I'm not the guy you read in the newspaper to decide if you want to make the effort to catch the 8:00pm showing, or rent the last copy at the video store. I'm (with any luck) the friend you meet in the coffee house afterwards, to talk about what you've seen. So: if you see a particular title you're interested in, and want to savor the full film experience, and watch it with innocent eyes (AKA no spoilers), then don't read anything here. Come back when you're done and see if you and I think the same things. If we do--great, if not—well, the web is a big place. Send me your URL.
Secondly: I am discussing the film at hand—not its reputation, or the reputation of its cast or crew. I try my best to watch each and every movie in a completely objective way. Yes, such-and-such film is regarded as the worst of the year, or so-and-so is regarded as the greatest director of all time—it doesn't matter to me. I'm watching what's unspooling before me, with no preconceptions, no prejudices in the way. Yes, I have read some reviews, and I know what is thought about some of these works. Doesn't matter. Even if the actor, or screenwriter, or director personally insulted me, or the cannisters of 35mm fell on and injured a personal friend. I will do my best to allow no personal prejudices, or received wisdom, color what I write here.
TRUE AND FALSE PREDICTIONS
Third: A lot of these films are reviewed, essentially, in real-time. I didn't watch it, then sit down afterwards and write it down, I wrote it down while I was watching it. (Some here aren't reviewed that way.) I have seen a lot of movies, and know how they work for the most part. Like all of you, I can spot trends. When a character says, for example, “You mean this is the only radio?” I foresee that it will be broken somehow...and there will be a storm. And no one can get through this storm, so they're all on their own. Help may not arrive until..... Well, as you can see, I may start to speculate from that point about other possible plot points to come. You are free to ignore these, and to laugh in my face when I'm proven wrong. (I'll always admit it.) It's kind of like chess—if you play enough games, you begin to see where an opponent's opening move might lead, and you plan your own moves accordingly. So when he comes from left field and beats you, you're not only humbled, but can see the board in a new way. I love it when movies confound my expectations creatively. (Conversely, I hate it when they do it boringly. So-and-so is too obviously the killer, so where else should we look? Oh, it turns out so-and-so WAS the killer. Yawn. Could have used that screenwriting money, you lazy, noncreative bastiches. If I was rich screenwriter then I have less time to take you apart here.) Note to film-makers: don't do the same damn thing because it worked before in that big hit. (Film-makers note to me: ha ha ha.)
CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE
Lastly, there are people who can write creatively for the screen. If they make the effort, more power to them and I am behind them all the way. But there are other “screenwriters” who do little more than recycle the genre's known greatest hits. “Screen-writer” is an easy credit, both publicly and behind-the-scenes. So if you see a credit for “cliche-wranglers” and nothing for writers, that's where that came from.
There are times when I need a bit of help getting through some of these things and beer is a good friend who can always rouse flagging enthusiasm. You'll probably notice when he makes his appearance!
Corrections, suggestions and folded paper money: reviews_AT_beckoningchasm.com. Replace _AT_ with the "at" symbol. We reserve the right to publish any emails received, depending on the amount of folded paper money.
So: consider yourself warned.
If you wish to plunge ahead, here you go.
The complete alphabetized list of films reviewed can be seen here.
Latest additions can be found here.
ARACHNIA (2003) Starring: Rob Monkiewicz, Irene Joseph. Director and cliché-wrangler: Brett Piper.
ICE CRAWLERS (2002) Starring: Goetz Otto, David Millbern, Alexandra Kamp. Director: John Carl Buechler. Cliché-wranglers: Robert Boris, Dennis A. Pratt and Matthew Jason Walsh.
MIDNIGHT MASS (2002) Starring: Box doesn't say. Director: Tony Mandile. Cliché-wranglers: F. Paul Wilson, Tony Mandile.
SHARK ATTACK III: MEGALODON (2002) Starring: John Barrowman, Jennifer McShane. Director: David Worth. Cliché-wranglers: Scott Devine and William Hooke.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: The Exorcist III (1990), Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)
THE DAY IT CAME TO EARTH (1979) Starring: Wink Martindale, George Gobel. Director: Harry Thomasson. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: Paul Fisk.
DEADLY SPECIES (2002) Starring: Pete Penuel, Allison Adams, Brian Minyard. Director: Daniel Springen. Cliché-twisters & shakers: Rory Penland, Bill Suchy.
THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD (1957) Starring: John Carridine, Robert Clarke. Director: Jerry Warren. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: John W. Steiner.
QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS (1947) Starring: Patricia Morison, Robert Lowery. Director: Edward Finney. Cliché-wrangler and tamer: Roger Merton.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: The Astronaut's Wife (1999), Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966), Red Planet (2000)
DREAMCATCHER (2003) Starring: Thomas Jane, Tom Sizemore, Morgan Freeman. Director: Laurence Kasdan. Screenwriters: William Goldman, Laurence Kasdan.
GHOST RIG (2001) Starring: Heather Peace, Jason Simmons, Noel Fitzpatrick. Director: Julian Kean. Cliché-wranglers & assorted interesting bits providers: Sally Charlton, Graema Clapperton, Bill Dale, Julian Kean.
SHE GODS OF SHARK REEF (1958) Starring: Bill Cord, Don Durant, Lisa Montell, Jeanne Gerson. Director: Roger Corman. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: Robert Hill, Victor Stoloff.
SILENT WARNINGS (2003) Starring: A.J. Buckley, Billy Zane, Michelle Borth. Director: Christian McIntire. Homage-wranglers: Christian McIntire, Bill Lundy, Kevin Gendreau.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: The Creeping Flesh (1973), Hellboy (2004), Hulk (2003), The Village (2004)
THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960) Starring: Douglas Kennedy, James Griffith, Marguerite Chapman, Ivan Triesault. Director: Edgar G. Ulmer. Screenwriter: Jack Lewis.
THE ATOMIC BRAIN (1964) Starring: Erika Peters, Frank Gerstle, Marjorie Eaton, Frank Fowler. Director: Joseph V. Mascelli. People who put words on Paper: Sue Bradford, Dean Dillman Jr, Jack Pollexfen, Vy Russell.
HORRORS OF SPIDER ISLAND (1960) Starring: Alex D'Arcy, Helga Frank, Barbara Valentin, Helga Neuner. Director: "Jamie Nolan" (Fritz Bottger). Cliche-Stranglers: Fritz Bottger, Eldon Howard, Albert G. Miller.
TAIL STING (2001) Starring: Laura Putney, Christian Scott, Shirly Brener, Gulshon Grover. Director: Paul Wynne. Cliche-wranglers: Timothy Griffin, Peter Soby Jr.
THE WASP WOMAN (1960) Starring: Susan Cabot, Barboura Morris, Fred (Anthony) Eisley, Michael Mark. Director: Roger Corman. Screenwriter: Leo Gordon.
SPECIAL FEATURE: ROBOT MONSTER - THE SCREENPLAY (2003) Starring: George Nader, George Barrows, John Brown, Gregory Moffett, John Mylong, Claudia Barrett. Director: Phil Tucker. Cliche-wrangler: Wyott Ordung.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Bruiser (2000), The Crawlers (1990), Godzilla (1998), Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (2004), Welcome to Planet Earth (1996)
CARNIVORE (2001) Starring: Craig Holt, Jill Adcock, Steven W. Cromie, miscellaneous others. Directors & Cliche-Wranglers: Joseph Kurtz, Kenneth Mader.
DEEP SHOCK (2003) Starring: David Keith, Simmone Jade MacKinnon, Mark Shepperd. Director: Paul Joshua Rubin. Screenwriters: Paul Joshua Rubin, Jeff Rank, Brian Mammett.
LOST VOYAGE (2001) Starring: Judd Nelson, Lance Henriksen, Janet Gunn. Director: Christian McIntire. Screenwriters: Patrick Philips, Christian McIntire.
VOYAGE TO THE PREHISTORIC PLANET (1965) Starring: Some Russian Actors, Basil Rathbone, Faith Domergue. Director and stock footage masseur: "John Sebastian" (Curtis Harrington).
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: The Blob (1988), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Team America: World Police (2004)
November and December, 2004
To be continued, January 2005
BRIDE OF THE GORILLA (1951) Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Peyton, Lon Chaney, Jr, Tom Conway. Director & Screenwriter: Curt Siodmak.
CREATURE (1985) Starring: Klaus Kinski, Diane Salinger, various others. Director: William Malone. Hommage-wranglers: William Malone, Alan Reed.
KING OF KONG ISLAND (1968) Starring: Brad Harris, several dozen others. Director: "Robert Morris" (Roberto Mauri). Guy Who Put Words on Paper: "Ralph Zucker" (Massimo Pupillo).
VOYAGE TO THE PREHISTORIC PLANET OF THE PREHISTORIC WOMEN (1968) Starring: Some Russian Actors, Mamie Van Doren. Director: "Derek Thomas" (Peter Bogdanovich). Stock footage masseur: Henry Ney.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: The Incredibles (2004), The Polar Express (2004)
Gamera Double Feature!
ATTACK OF THE MONSTERS (1969) Starring: Nobuhiro Kajima, Chrystopher Murphy, Space Babes, guys in Monster Suits and Eiji Funakoshi as "Prof." Director: Noriaki Yuasa. Screenwriter: Nisan Takahashi.
GAMERA THE INVINCIBLE(1966) Spliced-In: Albert Dekker, Brian Donlevy, also with a Guy in a Monster Suit, and Eiji Funakoshi as "Prof." Director: Sandy Howard. Guy who put words on Paper: Richard Kraft.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), Demolition Man (1993), House of the Dead (2003)
THE BUNKER (2001) Starring: Jason Flemyn, Charlie Boorman, people it's hard to tell apart Director: Rob Green. Screenwriter: Clive Dawson.
TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) Starring: David Love, Harvey B. Dunn, Dawn Bender, Bryan Grant Director and wordsmith: Tom Graeff.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Bleeders (1997), Dagon (2001), The Resurrected (1992)
DEVIL WINDS (2003) Starring: Joe Lando, Nicole Eggert, Peter Graham-Gaudreau; Director: Gilbert M. Shilton. Cliche-wranglers: A.G. Lawrence, Ira Schwartz.
EPOCH: EVOLUTION (2003) Starring: David Keith, Billy Dee Williams, Brian Thompson; Director: Ian Watson. Philosphy Major Dropout: Sam Wells.
ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER: CRASH OF MOONS (1954) Starring: Richard Crane; Director: Hollingsworth Morse. Screenwriter: Warren Wilson.
ROCKY JONES, SPACE RANGER: MENACE FROM OUTER SPACE (1956) Starring: Richard Crane; Director: Hollingsworth Morse. Screenwriter: Warren Wilson.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Alien Vs. Predator (2004), Are We There Yet? (2005), The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
FOREVER EVIL (1987) Starring: Red Mitchell, Tracey Huffman, Charles L. Trotter, Kent T. Johnson; Director: Roger C. Evans. Screenwriter: Freeman Williams.
HERCULES AGAINST THE MOON MEN (1964) Starring: "Alan Steel," "Jany Clair"; Director: Giacomo Gentilomo. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: unclaimed.
HERCULES AND THE CAPTIVE WOMEN (1961) Starring: Reg Park, Fay Spain, Mario Petri, Salvatore Furnari; Director: Vittorio Cottafavi. Screenwriter: unclaimed.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Jeepers Creepers (2001), Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), The Mummy (1999), The Mummy Returns (2001), Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
HELL ASYLUM (2002) Starring: Debra Mayer, Tim Muskatell, Brinke Stevens; Director: Danny Draven. Guy who Put Words On Paper: Trent Haaga.
HERCULES AND THE TYRANTS OF BABYLON (1964) Starring: Peter Lupus, Mario Petri; Director: Domenico Paolella. Screenwriter: Unclaimed.
PRISON OF THE DEAD (2000) Starring: Patrick Flood, Debra Mayer; Director: Victoria Sloan. Guy who Put Words On Paper: Matthew Jason Walsh.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Land of the Dead (2005), Hitch (2005), Madagascar (2005)
HERCULES UNCHAINED (1959) Starring: Steve Reeves; Director: Pietro Francisci. Legend Wranglers: Ennio De Concini, Pietro Francisci.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Ghost in the Shell (1995), War of the Worlds (2005)
LOST JUNGLE (1934) Starring: Clyde Beatty, lots of cats; Directors: David Howard, Armand Schaefer. Transitions Between Animal Acts: Wyndham Gittens, David Howard, Barney A. Sarecky, Armand Schaefer.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Fantastic Four (2005), The Pacifier (2005)
MESA OF LOST WOMEN (1953) Starring: Jackie Coogan, Harmon Stevens, Mary Hill, Lyle Talbot; Directors: Ron Ormand, Herbert Tevos. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: Herbert Tevos.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Batman Begins (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
ASSIGNMENT OUTER SPACE (1960) Starring: Rik Van Nutter, Archie Savage; Director: Antonio Margheriti. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: Jack Wallce, Vassilij Petrov.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Serenity (2005), Wallace and Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit(2005)
DEAD BIRDS (2004) Starring: Henry Thomas; Director: Alex Turner. Screenwriter: Simon Barrett.
LASER MISSION (1990) Starring: Brandon Lee, "Mercenary Man" Song; Director: B.J. Davis. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: David A. Frank, Philip Gutteridge.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Event Horizon (1997), Resident Evil(2002)
Special Christmas Ish!
SANTA CLAUS (1959) Starring: Jose Elias Moreno, Jose Luis Aguirre, Lupita Quezadas; Director: Rene Cordona. Yawn-stretchers: Rene Cordona, Adolfo Torres Portillo.
SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS (1964) Starring: John Call, Leonard Hicks, Bill McCutcheon, Vincent Beck; Director: Nicholas Webster. Cliche Wranglers: Paul L. Jacobson, Glenville Mareth.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Elf (2003), The Nightmare Before Christmas(1993)
W. Lee Wilder Double Feature!
KILLERS FROM SPACE (1954) Starring: Peter Graves; Director: W. Lee Wilder. Stock Footage Masseurs: William Raynor, Miles Wilder.
PHANTOM FROM SPACE (1953) Starring: People who cannot shut up, Dick Sands; Director: W. Lee Wilder. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: William Raynor, Miles Wilder.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), King Kong (2005)
ANTIBODY (2002) Starring: Lance Henriksen, Robin Givens; Director: Christian McIntire. Screenwriter who has seen Fantastic Voyage: Michael Baldwin.
DRACULA 3000 (2004) Starring: Johnny Rico, Ellie Mae Clampett, President Lindberg, Count Floyd; Director: Darrell Roodt. Guys Who Put Words on Paper, Apparently Randomly: Ivan Milborrow, Darrell Roodt.
WHITE PONGO (1945) Starring: Richard Fraser, Maris Wrixon, Ray Corrigan; Director: Sam Newfield. Typist: Raymond L. Schrock.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: X-Men (2000), X2: X-Men United (2003)
THE SNOW CREATURE (1954) Starring: Paul Langdon, Bill Phipps, maybe Lock Martin or maybe Dick Sands; Director: W. Lee Wilder. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: Miles Wilder.
THE SONS OF HERCULES: ADVENTURES IN THE LAND OF DARKNESS (1963) Starring: Dan Vadis; Directors: Al World, Lewis Mann. Guys Who Typed Things: Pat Klein, Al World, Kirk Mayer.
THE SONS OF HERCULES: AGAINST THE DEVIL OF THE DESERT (1964) Starring: Kirk Morris; Director: Antonio Margheriti. Guys Who Typed Things: Guido Malatesta, Arturo Rígel, André Tabet.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Dune (1984), Sky High (2005)
ALONE IN THE DARK (2005) Starring: Christian Slater, Tara Reid, Stephen Dorff; Director: Uwe Boll. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: Elan Mastai, Michael Roesch, Peter Scheerer.
FIRST SPACESHIP ON VENUS (1960) Starring: A bunch of dubbed foreigners, most of them probably Commies!; Director: Kurt Maetzig. Guys Who Typed Things Which Were Later Dubbed Over Anyway: Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Gunter Reisch, several others.
ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS (1966) Starring: John Agar, Anthony Huston, lobsters, paper mache; Director: Larry Buchanan. Guys Who Typed Up Stuff for Actors to Say: Hillman Taylor, Larry Buchanan.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: United 93 (2006)
THE ASTRAL FACTOR (1976) Starring: Robert Foxworth, Elke Sommer, Frank Ashmore; Director: Uncredited. Guy(s) Who Put Words on Paper: Uncredited. Hey, if they can't be bothered....
THE GALAXY INVADER (1985) Starring: Richard Dyszel, Richard Ruxton, bunches of Dohlers; Director and Chronicler of Our Redneck Heritage: Don Dohler.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Lifeforce (1985), Robots (2005)
BATTLE OF THE WORLDS (1961) Starring: Claude Rains; Director: Antonio Margheriti. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: "George Higgins III."
BOG (1983) Starring: Marshall Thompson, Gloria De Haven, Aldo Ray, Goria De Haven again; Director: Don Keeslar. Rar! I'm A Monsta!: Carl Katt.
UNKNOWN WORLD (1951) Starring: Bruce Kellogg, Otto Waldis, Dr. Morley, Dr. Woman; Director: Terrell O. Morse. Guy Who Put Words on Paper: Millard Kauffman.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004)
BLOOD TIDE (1982) Starring: James Earl Jones, Jose Ferrer, bunches of nobodies, silly monster; Director: Richard Jefferies. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: Niko Mastorakis, Richard Jefferies.
SHADOWS OF THE DEAD (2004) Starring: Jonathan Flanigan, Beverly Hynds; Director and screenwriter: Carl Lindbergh.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Lady in the Water (2006), Office Space (1999)
THE BRAIN MACHINE (1977) Starring: James Best, Gerald McRaney, bunches of nobodies; Director: Joy N. Houck. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: Christian Garrison, Joy N. Houck, Thomas Hal Phillips.
THE WILD WOMEN OF WONGO (1958) Starring: Jean Hawkshaw, swimsuit models, parrot; Director: James L. Wolcott. Cliche wrangler: Cedric Rutherford.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: The Brothers Grimm (2005), House of Flying Daggers (2004)
PREHISTORIC WOMEN (1950) Starring: Laurette Luez, Allan Nixon; Director: Gregg C. Tallas. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: Sam X. Abarbanel, Gregg C. Tallas.
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967) Starring: Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne, Michael Gough; Director: Freddie Francis. Guy Who Watched Quatermas Films: Milton Subotsky.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Forever Evil (Standard Cut) (1987), Mirrormask (2005)
SPECIAL FEATURE: SINBAD OF THE SEVEN SEAS - THE SCREENPLAY (1989) Starring: Lou Ferrigno, John Steiner; Director: Enzo G. Castellari. Cliche and dubbing wranglers: Tito Carpi, Enzo G. Castellari, Luigi Cozzi, Ian Denby.
WARNING FROM SPACE (1956) Starring: Keizo Kawasaki, Toyomi Karita, other Japanese people I couldn't pick out of a police lineup, Starfish people, Gangster Steve, English dubbers; Director: Koji Shima. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: Hideo Oguni, Jay Cipes, Edward Palmer.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: Flags of Our Fathers (2006), The Santa Clause 3 (2006)
November and December, 2006
To be continued, January 2007
January - ?, 2007
Due to unexpected occurrences, the Cinema will not be updated during this time. We will be back soon!
November, 2008 - Didja miss us?
THE PHANTOM PLANET (1961) Starring: Dean Fredericks, Francis X. Bushman, Tony Dexter, Richard Kiel, Coleen Gray; Director: William Marshall. Guys Who Put Words on Paper: Fred Gebhardt, William Talaak, Frank De Gorter.
PLANET OUTLAWS (1953) Starring: Buster Crabbe, Anthony Warde, Constance Moore, Montague Shaw; Director: Harry Revier. Serial Typists: Whole Bunches of Guys and a Gal.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: TBA
COLOSSUS AND THE AMAZON QUEEN (1960) Starring: Rod Taylor, "Ed Fury" and some Italian women; Director: Vittorio Sala. Blatherers: Ennio De Concini, Fulvio Fo, and about a dozen more.
EEGAH (1962) Starring: Richard Kiel, Arch Hall Jr., Arch Hall Sr.; Director: Arch Hall Sr. Typewriter Wrangler: Bob Wehling.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: TBA
COSMOS: WAR OF THE PLANETS (1977) Starring: John Richardson, bunches of people I don't care about; Director: Alfonso Brescia. Guys Who Tried to Do Too Much with the Whole Story Thing: Alfonso Brescia, Aldo Crudo.
DESTROY ALL PLANETS (1968) Starring: Dubbed Japanese people, giant rubber monsters; Director: Noriaki Yuasa. Guy with a writer's credit: Nisan Takahashi.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: TBA
ICE SPIDERS (2007) Starring: Patrick Muldoon, Vanessa Williams, spider chow, assorted clowns; Director: Tibor Takacs. Cliche Wrangler: Eric Miller.
WAR OF THE PLANETS (2003) Starring: Dubbed Tim Daley, Jason Hall, Mike Conway, his friends; Director and screenwriter and pretty much everything else: Mike Conway.
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS: TBA
February - May, 2009
Folks, I've been trying to write a review of Luigi Cozzi's "Alien Contamination" but I keep going into comas and cryogenic suspension, and have to be revived, participate in time-travel experiments, try to watch the film again...well, you know the story. Coming soon, though!
ALIEN CONTAMINATION (1980) Starring: Ian McCullough, pulsating eggs, others, assorted clowns; Director and cliche slinger: Luigi Cozzi.