Tuesday, April 30, 2013

#988. Bait (2012) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: Kimble Rendall

Starring: Richard Brancatisano, Xavier Samuel, Chris Betts

Tag line: "The food chain just got flipped"

Trivia: Despite only earning approximately $775,000 in its home country of Australia, the movie was an overseas success, making upwards of $20 million China alone

Bait, a 2012 Australian import, has a few things in common with another recent film, 2011’s Shark Night. Along with the fact both were originally presented in 3D, they tell a similar story, in which a group of people are hunted by killer sharks. But this is where the similarities end, because while Shark Night toned down the violence to attract a younger audience, Bait lets the blood flow freely, and even allows an occasional severed head to float into frame.

A small beachside community is rocked by a freak tsunami. As a result, several people are trapped inside a flooded supermarket. But while they were lucky enough to survive the disaster, these unfortunate few now have a much bigger problem to contend with: a pair of enormous great white sharks are loose in the store, and are hungry for fresh meat. 

After gorging themselves on the corpses of those killed by the tsunami, the sharks turn their attention to the survivors, who, trapped standing atop the store's shelves, are working diligently to find a way out of their dangerous predicament.

It’s a great set-up, and Bait does a fairly good job telling its story, combining the gory attacks with a few genuinely suspenseful moments. Along with those inside the supermarket, three people are also trapped in an adjacent parking garage, sitting patiently in their submerged vehicles waiting for help to arrive. Two of them, Kyle (Lincoln Lewis) and his girlfriend Heather (Cariba Heine), inadvertently draw the attention of a shark, causing the creature to crash itself into their car’s windows. 

Yet while the tension in Bait undoubtedly rises whenever the sharks are on the prowl for food, it’s nothing compared to what happens when they finally catch some. In one scene, a guy falls into the water and quickly attempts to climb back out. Jaimie (Phoebe Tonkin), a teenage girl trapped inside the store with her policeman father (Martin Sacks), grabs the guy's arm to try and help him. It’s at this point a shark attacks. Soon, Jaimie is holding nothing but a severed limb, and watching as the rest of the body slowly drifts away.

Unfortunately, Bait does suffer from what seems to be a common ailment in recent genre films: poor CG effects. The scene where the tsunami crashes onto the beach isn’t the least bit convincing, and some of the shark attacks result in a cloud of computer-generated blood that’s equally unimpressive. Fortunately, Bait manages to overcome these issues, weaving an intense tale of survival around an interesting concept, and doing some pretty cool things with it in the process.

Monday, April 29, 2013

#987. Scarface (1932)

Directed By: Howard Hawks

Starring: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley

Trivia: Al Capone was rumored to have liked the film so much that he had his own copy of it

Following the box-office success of Little Caesar and The Public Enemy, two gangster-themed films released in 1931, there was concern among state censors that the American public might begin to view criminals in a sympathetic light, or, worse still, as role models. As a result, they came down hard on Scarface, a 1932 crime movie produced by millionaire Howard Hughes, and demanded (among other things) that the additional title The Shame of a Nation be added to the film. Yet, despite their best efforts, the combined talents of star Paul Muni and director Howard Hawks transformed Scarface into the era’s most violent, and most effective, gangster film.

Based loosely on the life of Al Capone, Scarface stars Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, a hard-nosed criminal who, as the movie opens, is the right-hand man of mobster Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins). But it isn’t long before Tony makes a play for the top spot, cozying up to Lovo’s girl, Poppy (Karen Morley), and knocking off rivals like Gaffney (Boris Karloff). With the help of his close pal, Guino Rinaldo (George Raft), Tony is soon the king of New York’s criminal underworld, but with the police constantly breathing down his neck, he finds it isn’t nearly as much fun as he thought it would be.

As played by Muni, Tony is a ferocious, contemptible thug, a blunt instrument who lets his guns do the talking. Even in his personal life, Tony is reckless; the relationship he has with his kid sister, Cesca (Ann Dvorak), is borderline incestuous, and their scenes together have a sexual energy that’s downright disturbing. Yet, in spite of all this, Muni somehow makes Tony an appealing character, a guy who gets such a kick out of being a gangster that his enthusiasm spills off the screen (you can’t help but smile at the scene where he first gets his hands on a Tommy Gun, acting as excited as a kid on Christmas morning). As far as the violence is concerned, director Howard Hawks rarely shows any on-screen killings, yet presents each murder in a manner that's just as poignant. When Boris Karloff’s character, Gaffney, is gunned down in a bowling alley, we hear the shots that finish him off, but what we see is a bowling ball rolling down the lane, and a single pin toppling over, as if to signify the deed’s been done.

Much to the censors’ chagrin, Scarface not only matched the success of Little Caesar and The Public Enemy, it surpassed them, proving once and for all that cinematic gangsters were here to stay.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

#986. Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

Directed By: Werner Herzog

Starring: Helmut Döring, Paul Glauer, Gisela Hertwig

Trivia: Werner Herzog promised the cast he would jump into a field of cactuses if they managed to pull through the movie. Eventually, he fulfilled his promise

One day, my brother and I got into a friendly argument over the films I view on a regular basis. 

 “You watch a ton of weird-ass movies”, he said to me. 

I immediately took issue with this statement, and started rattling off a number of well-respected classics I count among my all-time favorites (The Godfather, Patton, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and so on ). 

He then looked me square in the eye and said “You watched a movie about German midgets running wild on the Canary Islands”.

The debate ended right there. 

Yeah”, I sheepishly replied, “ I did watch that one”. 

I couldn’t even muster up the courage to tell him I really enjoyed it, too.

The movie he was referring to is Even Dwarfs Started Small, director Werner Herzog’s 1970 black and white film set in a world inhabited entirely by little people. At a remote psychiatric clinic, the facility’s president (Pepe Hermine) punishes an inmate named Pepe (Gerd Gickel) for a minor infraction... by tying him to a chair in his office. 

In an effort to free their pal, the remaining patients stage a rebellion, and march on the president’s office, demanding Pepe be released. Yet what starts as a small uprising soon devolves into total mayhem, and by the time all is said and done, some property has been destroyed, a few animals have been humiliated, and the facility’s truck lies burning in a ditch.

With Even Dwarfs Started Small, Herzog has taken the stance that rebellion, - justifiable or not - often leads to lawlessness. Yet as the movie unfolds, even Herzog himself gets swept up in the chaos, completely abandoning structure and narrative in favor of pure cinematic anarchy. 

In one unforgettable sequence, the inmates gather around an outdoor table to eat a meal they’ve prepared, only to start flinging the food at each other. But the scene doesn’t end there; soon, the group is taking their frustrations out on the above-mentioned truck, which is driving, round and round in a circle, behind them… with nobody at the wheel! Having already tossed food at each other, the inmates start heaving it (along with some plates, a few glasses, the odd bottle or two, and a typewriter) at the truck as it continually rolls past them.

As an added bonus, Herzog didn’t bother removing any of the real-life insanity that slipped into Even Dwarfs Started Small from time to time, like when the actor playing Pepe, still tied to a chair, reacts with shock when the window behind him shatters and a live chicken (tossed from outside) comes crashing to the ground (the poor guy kept staring off-screen, a look of horror on his face, waiting in vain for Herzog to yell ‘Cut’). The camera also captures an argument that breaks out between two actors, when the guy playing Hombre (Helmut Doring) refuses to climb a small hill (one actress calls him a coward, and he angrily tells her to kiss his ass).

Believe it or not, this is only scratching the surface; there’s still plenty of lunacy for you to discover on your own. A smorgasbord of the strange and unusual, Even Dwarfs Started Small is, as my brother put it, a “weird-ass movie”.

And I absolutely love it!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

#985. The Road Warrior (1981) - Spotlight on Australia

Directed By: George Miller

Starring: Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Michael Preston, Max Phipps

Tag line: "In the future, cities will become deserts, roads will become battlefields and the hope of mankind will appear as a stranger"

Trivia: The dog used in the film was obtained from a local dog pound, and was adopted by one of the camera operators when filming completed

Set in a desolate wasteland where the only rule is kill or be killed, The Road Warrior -  the second entry in the Mad Max series - distinguishes itself from its predecessor by favoring action over character development. 

And, oh, what a thrilling ride it is!

The Road Warrior opens with our hero, Max (Mel Gibson), speeding along the highway in his interceptor, scouring the land for the only resource that matters: gasoline. 

After a run-in with a ruthless gang of marauders, Max crosses paths with the Gyro Captain (Bruce Spence), who tells him about a nearby refinery that is still churning out fuel. Unfortunately, this facility is under constant attack, besieged day and night by the very gang that Max encountered earlier. 

Led by a masked behemoth known as The Humongous (Kjell Nilsson), these bandits have been trying in vain to get their hands on the precious fuel, but have yet to breach the wall surrounding the plant. 

After rescuing one of their workers (who was ambushed by Humongous’ men and left for dead), Max is permitted inside the facility, which is run by a small group of desperate men and women, all of whom want to leave their "jobs" behind and start a new life. The question, of course, is how will they get past The Humongous and his collection of brigands? 

Fortunately, Max has a plan; in exchange for all the gasoline he can carry, Max agrees to help them escape by way of an abandoned truck he stumbled upon earlier, one big enough to carry all the fuel they'll need for their long journey. 

Of course, with The Humongous lurking nearby, pulling off this daring scheme is easier said than done.

The Road Warrior doesn’t spend a lot of time building up its various supporting characters, or filling us in on their back story; we never learn much about those inside the refinery, not even the Feral Boy, played by Emil Minty, who quickly befriends Max. It simply isn’t that kind of movie. 

What The Road Warrior does do (and very well, I might add) is get our hearts pounding with a collection of balls-out action scenes. Along with the opening sequence, where Max is pursued by some of The Humongous’ men, The Road Warrior wows us with a plethora of exhilarating moments, chief among them the finale, which sees Max barreling down the road in a big rig, attempting to outrun a dozen or so vehicles. 

Produced in the days before CGI, The Road Warrior relied on real cars, real crashes, and real excitement to tell its tale of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and you will marvel at what director George Miller and his team managed to pull off.  

The ultimate thrill ride, The Road Warrior rarely slows down long enough to let you catch your breath, and I loved every pulse-pounding second of it!

Friday, April 26, 2013

#984. Basket Case (1982)

Directed By: Frank Henenlotter

Starring: Kevin Van Hentenryck, Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner

Tag line: "The tenant in room 7 is very small, very twisted and very mad"

Trivia: The Bar scenes were shot in a S&M club in Manhattan that is today known as the Hellfire Club

Eight years before he helmed the bizarre Frankenhooker, Frank Henenlotter made his directorial debut with the even more bizarre Basket Case, which follows the exploits of Duane Bradley (Kevin Van Hentenryck), a small-town yokel who travels to New York City with nothing but a wad of cash in his pocket and a large wicker basket. What’s in the basket, you ask? Why, it’s his Siamese twin brother, of course! The problem is, Duane’s twin, who goes by the name Belial, isn’t exactly what you’d call “normal”. In fact, he’s little more than a mute mound of flesh, with a head, two arms, and a nasty disposition. The brothers, who were separated against their will, have come to the big city to take their revenge on the doctors that performed the separation surgery.

Despite its low budget (according to Henenlotter, the film cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 to produce), Basket Case accomplishes quite a bit, both in the make-up department (Belial’s victims look convincingly torn to shreds) and, more impressively, the manner in which Belial is brought to life. He isn’t always believable; when Belial attacks, he leaps through the air towards his intended victim, an effect that looks more comical than menacing. Yet Henenlotter and his crew do manage to conjure up some remarkable moments with the little guy. In one scene, Belial flies into a rage when he realizes Duane has left him alone to go on a date with Sharon (Terri Susan Smith), a receptionist he recently met. Aided by stop-motion animation, Belial tears the hotel room apart, destroying a television and tossing a dresser drawer against the wall, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say the stop-motion was flawless, I have to admit that, for a $35,000 movie, it looked pretty damn good!

Even more amazing is how we come to accept this mutated mess as an honest-to-goodness character. There are times we feel sorry for Belial, like in the extended flashback sequence where Duane and Belial’s father (Richard Pierce) forcibly has the two of them separated, then tosses Belial into a trash bag and drops him next to a dumpster. There’s also a touching domestic scene in which the kindly aunt who raised them (Ruth Neuman) reads a book to the brothers, with Belial sitting on her lap as she does so. It’s to Henelotter’s credit that he makes us fear this globular mass, while at the same time ensuring we care about it as well. Considering the budget he had to work with, pulling off just one of these would have been impressive, but pulling both off? That’s nothing short of a miracle.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

#983. Bugsy Malone (1976) - The Films of Alan Parker

Directed By: Alan Parker

Starring: Scott Baio, Florrie Dugger, Jodie Foster

Tag line: "Every year brings a great movie. Every decade a great movie musical!"

Trivia: When looking for Fat Sam, director Alan Parker went to a Brooklyn classroom and asked who was the naughtiest boy in class; all the class replied John Cassisi, who subsequently got the part

Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone helped get me through a very difficult evening. 

It was 1981 - about a month shy of my 12th birthday - and I had to go into the hospital for minor ear surgery. Because the operation was scheduled for early morning, I checked in the day before and stayed overnight. What’s more, the hospital was a good 30 miles from home, so when visiting hours were over and my parents left, I felt incredibly alone. 

I passed the time re-reading one of my favorite comic books (Batman’s Detective Comics, #476, “The Sign of the Joker”), then turned my attention to the TV hanging above my bed. After watching the latest episode of a short-lived sitcom titled Best of the West (anyone out there remember that one?), it was time for the Movie of the Week, which just happened to be Bugsy Malone, a fun, upbeat musical starring a bunch of kids (most of whom were around my age), all acting like mobsters and “shooting” each other with whipped cream. 

A few minutes into the film, I forgot that I was so far from home... forgot my upcoming surgery … forgot everything! At that moment, Bugsy Malone was exactly what I needed.

Set in the Roaring ‘20s during the days of Prohibition, Bugsy Malone tells the story of… well... Bugsy Malone (Scott Baio), a down on his luck boxing promoter who falls in love with singer Blousey Brown (Florrie Dugger). Things get a bit dicey, however, when Tallulah (Jodie Foster), the girlfriend of a gangster named Fat Sam (John Cassisi), also falls for Bugsy. 

But there’s more to Bugsy Malone than romantic entanglements; the film also features a gangland-style turf war, with Fat Sam, owner of the most popular Speakeasy in town, facing off against his rival, Dandy Dan (Martin Lev), who is trying to muscle in on Sam’s territory. To gain the upper hand, Dan acquires a brand-new weapon called a splurge gun, which coats its victims with whipped cream. 

Out-muscled and out-gunned, Sam has no choice but to turn to his romantic rival, Bugsy Malone, for help.

Director Alan Parker once said that the reason he made Bugsy Malone (which was his first full-length movie) was because he wanted a film his four children could enjoy. 

It was Parker's eldest son, in fact, who suggested he make a movie starring only kids. Bugsy Malone is certainly unique in that regard; the entire cast was under the age of 17 when it was made, even though the world they inhabit is very adult-oriented, with Speakeasies, cars (powered by foot pedals, not gasoline) and gun-toting gangsters. Of course, the guns all fire whipped cream instead of bullets, but that only made them more awesome (after seeing this movie, I desperately wanted one of those guns). 

The whole picture has a whimsical feel to it. Even the musical numbers, many of which were performed by singer / songwriter Paul Williams (his voice was dubbed over that of the kids), are playful and amusing (“Fat Sam’s Grand Slam” is a real toe-tapper).

I’ve seen bits and pieces of Bugsy Malone over the years, but this was the first time I sat down and watched the entire movie - start to finish - since that night in 1981. Yes, it’s silly, and oh-so strange (especially whenever Paul Williams’ voice comes bellowing out of a young kid’s mouth). But Bugsy Malone saw me through a dark, lonely evening many years ago, and because of that it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

#982. Death Race 2000 (1975)

Directed By: Paul Bartel

Starring: David Carradine, Simone Griffeth, Sylvester Stallone

Tag line: "A Cross-Country Road Wreck!"

Trivia:  The main role was originally offered to Peter Fonda, who ultimately turned it down

One of the things I like most about watching producer Roger Corman’s films is seeing some of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the beginning of their careers. Three-time Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson was around 23 years old when he appeared in Corman’s 1960 production of Little Shop of Horrors, while a young Robert De Niro played one of Ma Barker’s boys in the 1970 crime film, Bloody Mama

In Death Race 2000, it was Sylvester Stallone’s turn to shine, and even though this wasn’t his first big-screen appearance (he had already been in a number of other movies, including The Lords of Flatbush), he was a year away from his breakout role in Rocky. In Death Race 2000, he plays a slightly different kind of character: Machine Gun Joe Viterbo, a hyper-sensitive race car driver and one of several entertaining personalities in this film.

It’s the year 2000, and the entire world has tuned in to watch the Transcontinental Road Race, an annual sporting event in which five professional drivers speed across the United States, trying to beat each other to the finish line. 

But there’s more to winning than being the fastest; you also have to be ready to kill, gathering up points awarded for each pedestrian you run down during the race. 

The odds-on favorite to win the Transcontinental is Mr. Frankenstein (David Carradine), a former champion and personal friend of the world’s leader, “Mr. President” (Sandy McCallum). His chief competition is Machine-Gun Joe Viterbo (Stallone), who, as announcer Junior Bruce (Don Steele) puts it, is “loved by thousands, hated by millions”. 

But, in this particular race, Frankenstein has more to worry about than his fellow competitors. His new navigator, Annie (Simone Griffith), is actually a member of the resistance, an underground movement determined to stop the race before any more innocent people are killed. Their plan is to kidnap Frankenstein and hold him hostage until the race is cancelled, yet as Annie soon discovers, Frankenstein has a few tricks of his own hidden up his sleeve.

Death Race 2000 is an action-packed dark comedy featuring an assortment of outrageous characters, starting with the five drivers participating in the race, each of whom has their own gimmick. Aside from Frankenstein (donning a black mask) and Machine Gun Joe (who occasionally fires his patented machine gun into a crowd of spectators), there’s Calamity Jane (Mary Woronov), driving around in a car with bull’s horns mounted on the front, and the highly Teutonic Matilda the Hun (Roberta Collins), whose fans wave flags emblazoned with swastikas. Rounding out the quintet is Nero the Hero (Martin Kove), the first driver to fall victim to the resistance (his car is blown sky-high, killing both he and his navigator, Cleopatra, played by Leslie McRay). 

None of the drivers like each other very much, which leads to fireworks whenever they gather at the various rest stops along the route (in an early scene, Matilda and Calamity Jane, both topless, nearly come to blows while receiving full-body massages).

Along with its bevy of over-the-top characters, Death Race 2000 features plenty of violence, most of which is a direct result of the race’s points system. As mentioned above, the drivers are awarded points for every pedestrian they run down: 10 points for women, 30 for teenagers, 70 for toddlers, and a whopping 100 points for the elderly. Machine Gun Joe is the first to score, slamming into a construction worker and slicing the poor guy’s groin with the huge dagger mounted on the front of his car. Even Frankenstein gets in on the fun when a group of nurses push several wheelchair-bound elderly patients into the middle of the road, hoping the popular driver will plow into them for a big score. In a humorous twist, Frankenstein swerves his car off to the side, taking out the nurses instead!

One of Roger Corman’s most popular movies, Death Race 2000 is a hilariously violent film that’s a whole lot of fun to watch.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

#981. King Kong (1933)

Directed By: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack

Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot

Tag line: "The Most Awesome Thriller Of All Time"

Trivia: Jean Harlow refused the lead part in this movie

In 1933, a teenage boy walked into Graumann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Blvd. to see a movie, and when he emerged two hours later, the course of his life had been forever changed. 

The movie was King Kong, and the boy was Ray Harryhausen. 

The fact that King Kong was responsible for stirring the imagination of the cinema’s greatest stop-motion animator - the creative mind behind such classic fantasy films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans - is enough to ensure it a place of honor in the annals of motion picture history.

Of course, the movie itself ain’t so bad, either.

Directed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, King Kong opens on the docks of New York harbor. Filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) and his crew, including new leading lady Ann Darrow (Fay Wray), have just set sail for a remote island that will serve as the backdrop for their latest adventure picture. 

But soon after the troupe arrives at their destination, Ann is kidnapped by natives and offered as a sacrifice to Kong, a giant ape that carries the poor girl off into the jungle. 

The ship’s first mate, Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot), organizes a rescue party to save Ann, an undertaking that leads to the eventual capture of the mighty Kong. Figuring New Yorkers will pay a hefty sum to see such an unusual creature, Denham hauls Kong back to America and puts the beast on display. 

Things go a bit awry, however, when Kong breaks free of his chains and unleashes his anger on the unsuspecting citizens of New York.

Forget the fact that the movie has very little in the way of an actual story; King Kong is all about the spectacle, and, for audiences in 1933, it must have been a sight to behold. Aided by the stop-motion artistry of Willis O’Brien, Kong causes all sorts of chaos, both at home and abroad. While on the island, Kong does battle with a variety of creatures, including a Pteranodon and, most notably, a tyrannosaurus (an exciting showdown that ends with Kong breaking the prehistoric beast’s jaw). 

Yet this is nothing compared to what happens when the gargantuan ape hits the streets of New York, where he topples subway trains and scales the side of the Empire State Building. Chock full of memorable sequences, King Kong has earned its reputation as one of the most influential fantasy films ever made.

Yet another interesting aspect of King Kong is how Kong emerges as the most likable character in the entire movie. A freak of nature who fell in love with the wrong girl, Kong was torn from his natural habitat so that he could be put on public display, and though he was clearly intended to serve as the film’s monster, it’s hard to see him as anything more than an innocent victim. 

Ray Harryhausen himself once said, “(Willis) O’Brien injected into a pile of rubber and metal joints far more sympathy and depth than was to be found in the real people on the screen”, and after watching King Kong - whether for the first time or the hundredth - you’ll likely agree that Harryhausen's observation was 100% spot-on.

Monday, April 22, 2013

#980. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

Directed By: John Newland

Starring: Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, Barbara Anderson

Tag line: "Can you see them, Sally ... hiding in the shadows. They're alive, Sally. They want you to be one of them when the lights go out"

Trivia: The role of Alex Farnham was originally to be played by George Hamilton

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a 1973 made-for-TV movie, is a disturbing little thriller, and features a trio of tiny monsters you won’t soon forget.

Sally Farnham (Kim Darby) has recently inherited a house that belonged to her late grandmother. Shortly after she and her husband, Alex (Jim Hutton), move in, Sally discovers a brick fireplace in the basement that’s been boarded up. The handyman, Mr. Harris (William Demarest), who worked for Sally’s grandmother, tells Sally that under no circumstances should the fireplace be opened (yet refuses to explain why). Despite his warnings, Sally removes the bolts from the fireplace door, and in so doing releases three goblin-like creatures, each standing no more than a foot or so tall. Neither Alex nor her best friend, Joan (Barbara Anderson), believe Sally when she tries to tell them about the little monsters, chalking her bizarre behavior up to nervous tension. Continually hounded by the new “visitors”, Sally begins to fear for her life, and is left to wonder what it is these miniature pests want from her.

While the actors definitely do their part to make Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark a memorable motion picture (especially Hunter, who perfectly conveys the confusion and, later on, the terror of a woman pushed to the brink), it’s the goblins themselves that make it entertaining. Initially, we only hear these creatures, talking in faint whispers and calling Sally by name. This alone is enough to give us the heebie-jeebies, but when we finally get a glimpse of one of the mini-monsters, the movie’s creep factor hits a whole new level. They appear continuously throughout the second half of the film, hiding behind curtains, climbing up stairs, and, in the film’s best scene, trying to attack Sally while she’s in the shower. It’s clear from the outset that these imps intend to kill Sally, which is confirmed when they try to trip her at the top of the stairs, and instead send the interior decorator (Pedro Armendáriz, Jr) plummeting to his death.

The goblins, which were played by actors in make-up, may, at the start, evoke a few laughs from younger viewers, especially those accustomed to more "high-tech" (read CGI) monsters. But after a scene or two, these creepy little buggers will have even the most jaded audience members poised at the edge of their seats.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

#979. The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

Directed By: George Stevens

Starring: Max von Sydow, Michael Anderson Jr., Charlton Heston

Trivia: Telly Savalas shaved his head bald for his role as Pontius Pilate. He kept his head shaved for the rest of his life

The Greatest Story Ever Told, George Stevens’ 1965 epic on the life of Jesus Christ, stars Max von Sydow as Jesus, a man Christians believe was the son of God. The film touches on all the key moments of Jesus’ time on earth, from his birth in a Bethlehem manger and his encounter with John the Baptist (Charlton Heston) to his teachings, including the Sermon on the Mount, and the various miracles he performed, like raising his good friend, Lazarus (Michael Tolan), from the dead. Finally, The Greatest Story Ever Told covers Jesus’ arrest, his trial at the hands of Pontius Pilate (Telly Savalas), his crucifixion, and, three days later, his resurrection.

That’s the story in a nutshell, but what’s truly great about The Greatest Story Ever Told is its gargantuan cast. In fact, the most fun you’ll have watching this movie will be trying to identify its cavalcade of stars, some in significant roles (Charlton Heston makes for a good John the Baptist), others popping on-screen for a few seconds (most notable is John Wayne as the Roman Centurion who, at the crucifixion, uttered “Truly, this man was the son of God”). The list of actors and actresses appearing in The Greatest Story Ever Told reads like a who’s-who of Hollywood in the 1960s: Jose Ferrer (as Herod Antipas), Martin Landau, Angela Lansbury, Pat Boone, Roddy McDowell, Sal Mineo, Donald Pleasance (as Satan, who else?), Sidney Poitier, and Shelley Winters (in the enviable role of “Woman who is healed”). Several cast members, aside from those listed above, went on to appear regularly on television, including Russell Johnson (aka the Professor in Gilligan’s Island), Mark Lenard (who played Spock’s father, Sarek, in a number of Star Trek episodes), and Jamie Farr (Corporal Max Klinger in the hit ‘70s sitcom, M*A*S*H), who, in the film, portrayed the apostle Thaddeus.

Unfortunately, not even the movie’s vast collection of stars can save it from the throes of mediocrity. Simply put, The Greatest Story Ever Told is extremely boring, and trudges along towards its inevitable conclusion at a snail’s pace. Many so-called dramatic scenes come up short, like the Last Supper or Jesus being tempted in the garden, and are instead tedious, with little or no effort put forth by director Stevens to make them cinematically engaging. It’s as if he felt the mere act of presenting biblical moments on film would be enough to both stir his audience’s emotions and arouse their piety. Clearly, he was wrong, and what we’re left with is a mind-numbingly pretentious movie that, quite often, buckles under the weight of its own self-importance.

The story of Jesus may be the greatest ever told, but it made for a pretty humdrum motion picture.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

#978. Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)

Directed By: Nathan Juran

Starring: Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers

Tag line: "See a female colossus... her mountainous torso, skyscraper limbs, giant desires!"

Trivia: Director Nathan Juran insisted on being billed as "Nathan Hertz" (Hertz was Juran's middle name), apparently because he was embarrassed by this film's low budget and poor quality

I absolutely love the poster art for 1958’s Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, which shows a scantily-clad beauty towering over a city freeway, holding a car in her left hand as she reaches down to grab another one with her right. Down below, people are running in all directions, and in the lower left corner, a truck that crashed into the giant babe’s foot lies in ruins. I’d seen this artwork long before I ever watched the movie, and based on what it showed me, I couldn’t wait to see Attack of the 50 Foot Woman!

Alas, the poster is more interesting than the film itself.

Wealthy socialite Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes) is a very unlucky lady. Aside from the fact her husband Harry (William Hudson) is having an affair with local fun girl Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers), Nancy’s also just had a run-in with a 30-foot tall extraterrestrial, and, due to her history of mental problems, when she tries telling people about it, no one believes a word she says. Hoping his wife is having another breakdown, Harry makes plans to lock Nancy away for good, thus giving him full control of her vast fortune. But following another encounter with the gargantuan alien, something strange happens to Nancy: she begins growing taller…and taller… and taller! The family physician, Dr. Cushing (Roy Gordon), has no idea what’s going on, and keeps Nancy heavily sedated until a cure can be found. Yet when Nancy, who’s now as tall as a building, finally wakes up, she decides to take her frustrations out on Harry, and there isn’t much anyone can do to stop her.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman isn’t a total stinker; the acting is good, especially Allison Hayes as Nancy, and Yvette Vickers is very easy on the eyes. Also, the scene where Nancy drags Harry out to the desert to show him the spaceship has a fairly dramatic payoff. Sure, the special effects are hilariously weak, but that’s to be expected (the film reportedly cost just $88,000 to produce). No, the main problem I had with Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is that it took too damn long for the 50-foot woman to attack! I’m not saying she should have been crushing buildings within the first 10 minutes. I just didn’t think they’d wait until the last 10 to roll her out, and when she finally does make her appearance, the damage she causes is pretty minimal.

So, yeah, the movie was a bit of a letdown. But I still love that poster!

Friday, April 19, 2013

#977. Ethel (2012)

Directed By: Rory Kennedy

Starring: Ethel Kennedy, Rory Kennedy, Ralph Bunche

Tag line: "A private look inside a highly public life"

Trivia: While making the festival tour, this film won four separate Audience Awards

Ethel is a documentary on the life of Ethel Kennedy, wife of former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated during his campaign for the presidency in 1968. Yet even though the movie, which was directed by Ethel’s youngest daughter Rory, takes us behind the scenes of one of America’s most powerful families, it is, at its heart, a very personal film about a woman whose tenacity and perseverance guided her young family through some extremely difficult times.

While Ethel does address a number of key moments in U.S. history, including the 1960 Presidential election, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Civil Rights movement, and the assassinations of both John and Robert Kennedy, it’s not a documentary about America in the turbulent ‘60s. It is the story of Ethel Kennedy, told in her own words (with the help of her surviving children, who occasionally chime in). We hear of how she and Robert Kennedy first met at a ski resort, and that, prior to their getting together, he had dated her sister, Patricia, for two years (a time Ethel now refers to as “a dark period”). Interspersed with footage of her hitting the campaign trail in 1960 and an appearance on the Jack Paar show are stories told by her children, who say Ethel Kennedy was both a devoted mother to all 11 of her offspring (as daughter Rory points out, Ethel was pregnant a grand total of 99 months, which amounts to just over 8 years of her life) and a bit out of her element when working around the house (one of her sons flat-out calls her a “bad cook”).

No movie about the Kennedy clan would be complete if it didn’t touch on the family’s political history, yet director Rory Kennedy does a fine job balancing Ethel’s public image with that of the person she knows simply as “mom”.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

#976. Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

Directed By: Ellory Elkayem

Starring: David Arquette, Kari Wuhrer, Scott Terra

Tag line: "Do you hate spiders? Do you really hate spiders? Well they don't like you either"

Trivia: The original title was Arac Attack (in many European countries the film was released under that title)

A truck traveling through the small town of Prosperity, Arizona inadvertently drops a large barrel of toxic waste into a nearby river, polluting the entire area. Without realizing it, the owner of a local spider farm (Tom Noonan) feeds crickets that have been contaminated by the waste to his spiders, which, as a result, grow to an enormous size. No longer satisfied with eating bugs, the spiders break out of their cages and descend upon the unsuspecting residents of Prosperity, many of whom fall victim to the hungry creatures. Aided by her ultra-bright son, Mike (Scott Terra), and Chris McCormick (David Arquette), who recently returned to Prosperity after several years away, The town’s sheriff (Kari Wuhrer) faces off against the invading spiders, which grow bigger, and more aggressive, with each passing hour. 

Even without the above synopsis, the title alone should have clued you in on what Eight Legged Freaks was going to be about. But along with the killer spiders, the movie also gives us a trio of interesting characters, namely the determined sheriff and her two kids, Mike and Ashley (a teenage Scarlett Johansson). All three performers do a fine job in their respective roles, and we come to care about this small family as they struggle to survive the onslaught. While many of the film’s other characters are either cartoonish (Harlan, played by Doug E. Doug, hosts a local radio show where he endorses every conspiracy theory known to man) or boring (despite being the top-billed star, David Arquette is bland as Chris, and seems to be mimicking Officer Dewey, the character he portrayed in Wes Craven’s Scream series), this family at least ensures we have someone to root for. 

That said, the real stars of the movie are (not surprisingly) the spiders, most of which are brought to life by some fairly convincing CGI. Whether chasing teens on motorbikes or attacking a tanker truck as it barrels down the road, these monstrous arachnids are a force to be reckoned with throughout the film, and are the key reason why Eight Legged Freaks is a hell of a lot of fun.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

#975. Phase IV (1974)

Directed By: Saul Bass

Starring: Michael Murphy, Nigel Davenport, Lynne Frederick

Tag line: "The Day The Earth Was Turned Into A Cemetery!"

Trivia: Saul Bass said in interviews that, during the editing process, the studio tampered with the film against his wishes

Saul Bass, an artist known primarily for his graphic designs (he created the opening title sequence for several movies, including Otto Preminger’s The Man With the Golden Arm and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo), directed only one feature film during his Hollywood career: the 1974 sci-fi / horror flick, Phase IV, a movie that shows what might happen if ants decide to take over the world.

Two researchers, biologist Dr. Ernest Hubbs (Nigel Davenport) and communications expert James Lesko (Michael Murphy), are sent to the Arizona desert to investigate reports that various species of ants are becoming aggressive, and attacking the local population. Believed the result of a cosmic blast of radiation, which, by all accounts, has also increased their intelligence, the ants appear to be bonding together, working as one to lay waste to the entire area. When Dr. Hubbs provokes the ants by destroying the dirt pillars they call home, it leads to a battle of wills between man and insect, with the ants continually gaining the upper hand.

Stylistically speaking, Phase IV is a very unusual motion picture, a sci-fi/horror film with a decidedly art-house feel (think Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey combined with Kingdom of the Spiders). The movie opens with a 7-minute sequence, shot by entomologist Ken Middleham, in which we see dozens of ants in extreme close-up. From there, we’re treated to such natural splendor as a panoramic view of the desert, a beautiful sunrise, and various other shots meticulously designed by Bass, who was clearly attempting to flex his creative muscles. Yet, despite all the artistry on display, Phase IV is ultimately a film about killer bugs, and provides a few glimpses of the homicidal insects in action. Shortly after the arrival of the scientists, an elderly couple (played by Alan Gifford and Helen Horton) are forced to shoot a horse belonging to their granddaughter, Kendra (Lynne Frederick), when the animal is attacked by thousands of ants. The family then flees their home when it becomes infested with the deadly insects, only to find their truck is also overrun. There’s even a fairly disgusting scene where several ants crawl out of a hole they’ve burrowed into a dead man’s hand!

While many viewers will undoubtedly be turned off by the film's slow pace (the two main characters spend a lot of time discussing theories and inputting data into the computers at their research facility), I found Phase IV to be a fascinating motion picture, a wholly original movie that tells its story of killer ants in as artistic a manner as possible.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

#974. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Directed By: Franklin J. Schaffner

Starring: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter

Tag line: "Somewhere in the Universe, there must be something better than man!"

Trivia: Allegedly, Jerry Goldsmith wore a gorilla mask while writing and conducting the score to "better get in touch with the movie."

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, actor Charlton Heston appeared in a trio of impressive science fiction films, all of which have become cult classics. Yet as popular as The Omega Man (1971) and Soylent Green (1973) were (and are), neither achieved the critical or commercial success of his first foray into the genre, 1968’s Planet of the Apes.

A deep-space mission under the command of Capt. George Taylor (Heston), which left earth in the 20th century, crash lands on a remote planet some 2,000 years in the future. Realizing they are there to stay, Taylor and his two subordinates, Landon (Robert Gunner) and Dodge (Jeff Burton), set out to explore this new world, only to find it is ruled by a society of talking apes! 

A melee ensues, during which Taylor is shot in the throat. Now a prisoner of the apes, he is taken to a laboratory and studied by chimpanzee researcher Zira (Kim Hunter). Realizing Taylor is not like other humans (on this planet, men and women are mute and behave like primitive animals), Zira and her fiancé Cornelius (Roddy McDowell) decide to use Taylor to prove Zira's theory of evolution, which asserts that all apes evolved from a lower order of man. 

The ruling council, headed by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), accuses Zira and Cornelius of heresy for suggesting that "superior" apes share a common ancestry with humans. Zaius and his colleagues change their tune, however, when Taylor regains his strength and starts to speak, something no man on this planet has ever done before!

Planet of the Apes is one of the most popular science fiction films ever made, a picture that spawned four direct sequels; a remake (Tim Burton’s Ill-advised 2001 movie of the same name); and a 21st century re-imagining (director Rupert Wyatt’s excellent 2011 flick Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which itself launched a series of films). Along with its influences on the genre and movies in general, Planet of the Apes also features a hell of a shocking finale, easily one of the most famous surprise endings in cinematic history. 

Yet what truly stands out as you watch Planet of the Apes are the apes themselves. The prosthetic make-up effects devised by artist John Chambers are beyond amazing, and kudos must also be given to producer Richard Zanuck, who, before the cameras even started rolling, invested $50,000 to ensure the apes would look as realistic as possible. Even more important - and just as remarkable - were the actors behind that make-up, all of whom delivered superb performances, and brought the various simian species presented throughout Planet of the Apes convincingly to life.

Like The Omega Man and Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes paints a bleak picture of mankind's future, a clear influence of the turbulent era (
a time rocked by civil strife and the war in Vietnam) in which these films were made. Yet despite the obvious influences of that period (which also includes an intriguing take on the civil rights movement), Planet of the Apes is not dated in the least, and is just as entertaining today as it was in 1968.

Monday, April 15, 2013

#973. The Towering Inferno (1974)

Directed By: John Guillermin

Starring: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden

Tag line: "The world's tallest building is on fire. You are there on the 135th floor... no way down... no way out"

Trivia: Faye Dunaway was often late to the set or didn't appear at all, which caused some of the other actors to become quite upset. William Holden reportedly shoved her against the wall one day and threatened her. For the next month, she had a perfect attendance record

As much as I love The Poseidon Adventure, 1974’s The Towering Inferno is my favorite of the ‘70s disaster films. Featuring a plethora of stars fighting for their lives inside a burning skyscraper, The Towering Inferno packs action, excitement, and a whole lot of fun into 165 minutes.

It is opening night for San Francisco’s Glass Tower, the world’s tallest building, and on-hand to celebrate is its designer, architect Doug Roberts (Paul Newman). After doing a bit of research, Roberts discovers that Roger Simmons (Richard Chamberlain), the electrical engineer and son-in-law of the building’s owner, James Duncan (William Holden), cut corners when installing the Tower’s electrical system, thus putting the entire structure in harm's way. 

Ignoring Roberts’ warnings of impending doom, Duncan decides to go ahead with the dedication ceremony, set to take place on the 135th floor. But when a small fire breaks out on a lower levels, it results in an all-out blaze that threatens not just the Tower, but the lives of everyone inside. 

With the help of Chief Michael O’Halloran (Steve McQueen) of the San Francisco Fire Department, Roberts works to save as many people as he can, a task that grows increasingly more difficult as the fire spreads to the other floors.

Part of what makes The Towering Inferno the “granddaddy of disaster films” is its phenomenal cast. Along with Newman and McQueen, both of whom were huge box-office draws at the time, there’s William Holden as the owner who soon sees the error of his ways, and Faye Dunaway as Susan, the girlfriend of Paul Newman’s character, who is one of many trapped inside the building. Other employees of the Glass Tower include Dan Bigelow (Robert Wagner), the public relations chief and one of the first to be cornered by the fire (his attempt to escape the blaze is perhaps the film’s most poignant moment), and Security Officer Harry Jernigan (O.J. Simpson), who works with Roberts to get as many people to safety as he possibly can (including young Mike Lookinland, who played Bobby Brady in the T.V. series The Brady Bunch). 

Among the many guests on-hand to celebrate the opening are Senator Parker (Robert Vaughn) and Harlee Claiborne (Fred Astaire), a con man trying to bilk lonely widow Lisolette Mueller (Jennifer Jones) out of her inheritance. Even singer Maureen McGovern, whose tune “The Morning After” became a hit when it was featured in The Poseidon Adventure, shows up as herself, entertaining guests during the ill-fated shindig on the 135th floor.

Featuring a number of tense sequences and a finale that is out of this world, The Towering Inferno set the bar high for every disaster film that would follow. And in my opinion, very few came close to matching it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

#972. Chain Letter (2010)

Directed By: Deon Taylor

Starring: Madison Bauer, Nikki Reed, Brad Dourif

Tag line: "If You Don't Forward It, You Die"

Trivia: The movie bombed at the box office, losing approx. $2.5 million of its estimated $5 million budget

Chain Letter, a 2010 horror film directed by Deon Taylor, concerns a group of teens who receive a “chain e-mail”, telling them that, unless they forward the message to five people, they’re going to die. Naturally, some of them don’t take the warning very seriously, that is until one of their number, Johnny (Matt Cohen), who ignored the e-mail, is murdered by a chain-wielding psychopath in a mask (played by Michael Bailey Smith). Following the death of her best friend, Rachel (Cherilyn Wilson), who met a similarly horrific end, Jessie (Nikki Reed) turns to the police and Det. Jim Crenshaw (Keith David) for help. Can the authorities track down the killer in time to stop him, or will more innocent blood be shed?

With its tale of a masked assailant who targets teens, then finishes them off in as grisly a manner as possible, Chain Letter was clearly intended as a throwback to the slasher movies of the ‘80s, and, for the most part, it’s entertaining. The kills are fairly gruesome (one I found particularly disturbing involved gym equipment), and the fact that the stalker also has a specific weapon of choice, in this case a large metal chain, was a nice touch. What’s more, Chain Letter opens with a bang; in the very first scene, we see a young victim, her head wrapped in duct tape, lying on the floor of a garage, with each leg chained to the back of a different car. Just then, the girl’s parents enter the garage, and, not knowing their daughter is there, prepare to drive off to work. And even though the payoff for this scene isn’t shown until much later in the film, it’s a tension-filled sequence all the same.

Chain Letter definitely has its weaknesses. First, the film’s anti-technology message is anything but subtle, with the filmmakers hitting us over the head with it time and again. Also, the movie’s two “name” stars, Keith David and Brad Dourif (who plays a school teacher) are woefully underused (especially Dourif, who only appears in a couple scenes). Still, if it’s a decent modern slasher you’re after, then Chain Letter will certainly do the trick.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

#971. Trick 'r Treat (2007)

Directed By: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Anna Paquin, Brian Cox, Dylan Baker

Tag line: "If you don't follow the rules tonight, you won't live to see tomorrow"

Trivia:  Because the film was shot primarily at night, little people had to stand in for kids in the trick or treating scenes

Halloween is the greatest time of year for horror fans, and each of us has our own “tradition” when it comes to the films we watch leading up to the big day. Personally, I like to kick October off with the classics, like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolf Man, then close things out with two Rob Zombie movies: House of 1,000 Corpses (on Oct. 30th) and The Devil’s Rejects (on Halloween Night). Another film I’ve recently added to the holiday rotation is writer / director Michael Dougherty’s 2007 anthology, Trick ‘r Treat, a movie that celebrates Halloween while also sending a few chills running down your spine. 

It’s Halloween night in a small suburban neighborhood, and there’s something sinister in the air. A married couple (Tahmoh Penikett and Leslie Bibb) discovers what happens when you blow out the candle inside your jack-o-lantern too early, while young Charlie (Brett Kelly) has a rather messy run-in with his school’s principle, Mr. Wilkins (Dylan Baker), a man who takes Halloween very seriously. As this is going on, five kids are heading out to the quarry, where, legend has it, a school bus filled with special-needs children crashed thirty years ago, sending the unfortunate tykes to an early grave. Meanwhile, back in town, some teenage girls, including the virginal Laurie (Anna Paquin), are looking for local boys to “party” with, and a nasty shut-in named Mr. Kreeg (Brian Cox), who despises Halloween and everything associated with it, is being terrorized by “Sam” (Quinn Lord), a pint-sized trick-or-treater intent on teaching the old guy a lesson he won’t soon forget. 

Usually, when it comes to anthologies, some sequences are stronger than others, yet every storyline that makes up Trick ‘r Treat is a winner. Dylan Baker is convincingly menacing as the educator hiding a dirty little secret, as is Anna Paquin, who, along with her smoking-hot pals (played by Lauren Lee Smith, Rochelle Aytes and Moneca Delain), has a surprise or two for the horny guys they’ve lured into the woods. The story involving the kids at the Quarry is perhaps the creepiest, and what starts as a Halloween prank soon turns into something much worse. The link connecting each tale is the character of “Sam”, who, along with giving Kreeg a hard time, watches over the entire town, making sure everyone follows the strict traditions of Halloween (naturally, those who don’t suffer the consequences). 

A film that also pays tribute to the myths and legends associated with the holiday, Trick ‘r Treat is an entertaining fright fest, and the perfect movie to watch during the Halloween season.

Friday, April 12, 2013

#970. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)

Directed By: Robert Rodriguez

Starring: George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel

Tag line: "One night is all that stands between them and freedom. But it's going to be a hell of a night"

Trivia: Tim Roth and Steve Buscemi were approached to play Pete Bottoms but neither could fit it into their schedules

I wish I had done things a bit differently before watching From Dusk Till Dawn

I should have gone in cold, avoiding the trailer and all of those reviews that revealed important plot points. But I didn’t. I was fully aware of the film's big twist before sitting down to see it, and while I still love From Dusk Till Dawn, I can’t help but wonder what my reaction might have been if I didn't know what was coming.

Written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, From Dusk Till Dawn is the story of the Gecko brothers, Seth (George Clooney) and Richie (Tarantino), a pair of outlaws wanted for, among other things, armed robbery and the killing of several Texas police officers. 

Hoping to escape into Mexico, the brothers kidnap Jacob (Harvey Keitel), a former man of the cloth, and his two kids Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu), who are traveling in an RV. With the promise that he and his family will be released once the brothers are safely in Mexico, Jacob sneaks the Geckos across the border to an all-night biker bar, where Seth has arranged to meet some old friends. 

Yet as they will learn all too quickly, this particular saloon, situated in the middle of nowhere, is far from your average hangout!

George Clooney, who at the time he appeared in From Dusk Till Dawn was also starring in the TV drama, ER, brings an intensity to Seth, coupled with a firm grasp on reality, something sorely lacking in his brother. As an actor, Tarantino has always had his detractors, yet here delivers one of his best performances as Richie, the psychopath following in his older brother’s footsteps. Of the two Geckos, his Richie is the more dangerous (he rapes and kills a bank teller they had taken hostage), and Tarantino perfectly conveys the character's disturbing nature. 

And if you like action, From Dusk Till Dawn has plenty of it, opening with a showdown at a convenience store in which the Geckos face off against a lawman (Michael Parks) and a cashier (John Hawkes) before finally burning the place to the ground.

As for what happens when the group walks into that bar in Mexico, It's best you experience that for yourself. I will tell you the second half of From Dusk Till Dawn features a handful of recognizable faces, including Cheech Marin, Fred Williamson, Tom Savini, Danny Trejo, and Salma Hayek, as well as a story twist so extreme it eclipses everything that went before it. 

I realize this twist has already been spoiled by a slew of others (As an FYI, it’s even featured in the trailer below, so beware), but on the off-chance there’s someone out there who hasn’t yet seen the movie, I have no intention of ruining what I believe is an amazing surprise.

And if you are one of those who have yet to see From Dusk Till Dawn… what are you waiting for?