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Showing posts from January, 2018

Queen of Blood (1966)

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Roger Corman was known to spare no expense when producing movies.  And by that, I mean that if any of his up-and-coming filmmakers asked him to spare a dime, it was doubtful they would receive a nickel.  Despite making a number of great movies, Corman always looked at it as a business venture rather than an artistic one.  He just happened to be pretty good at both ends.

American International, the company that he worked with almost exclusively in the 1950s and 1960s, managed to acquire the rights to some highly-regarded Soviet science fiction movies made at the time.  Soviet films were never known to be high-budget affairs themselves unless whoever was in charge decided they had to try and trump some American blockbuster, but the films they purchased had some of the best special effects of anything coming out at the time. 

Of course, just releasing these films as intended during the Cold War era was not going to fly, as they contained their share of anti-American propaganda.  Instead…

Planet of the Vampires (1965)

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Mario Bava was a pioneer in many genres, but largely in horror and giallo.  It is understandable why he usually worked, with some exceptions, within those genres.  Even if you were Federico Fellini, your budget was still largely what you could scrape together and heavily dependent on the success of your other films.  It may seem like Italy has churned out a massive amount of movies since their industry recovered after World War II, but the truth is many of them depended on ambition and ingenuity much more than cash. 

Science fiction, typically, is something that you need a little bit of the filthy lucre sitting around to do successfully.  While some of the best moments in horror films can be achieved by what you decide not to show (or what you have to do to hide a dodgy effect), science fiction by its very nature involves showing.  That's why we end up with a range of success over the years.  For every stop-motion saucer animated by Ray Harryhausen, you end up with a flying turke…

Logan (2017)

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In recent years we have been inundated with the origin stories of superheroes, over and over.  Often, in the cases of Batman and Spiderman, we have endured the same story numerous times as the series seems to get rebooted about every couple years or so.  Unless you are Thor or Deadpool, though, your superpowers do not ultimately make you immortal.  So, what happens when it's time for the hero to meet their end?

Wolverine, for all intents and purposes, was thought to be immortal, as he was given an adamantium endoskeleton and superior healing abilities.  Unlike the other mutants of the X-Men, he was manufactured, largely to be the first in a line of supersoldiers.  Still, immortality is a very difficult thing to achieve, and even Logan himself must succumb to the side-effects of what was done to him.

In 2029, Logan (Hugh Jackman) is slowly dying from being poisoned from the very substance that made him the unstoppable weapon he originally was.  He drives a limousine, earning just …

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)

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Another year, another clutch of special effects extravaganzas from Marvel and Disney.  And, typically, movie after movie introducing new characters and following the time-warn origin formula.  Such is assembly-line film making and, although a number of Marvel movies stand out, the method in which they are made is starting to wear thin on the audience.

In fact, it was wearing thin back when the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out in 2014.  That's what suddenly made that movie so special: it didn't take itself seriously, waste its time on complicated backstory to give it an edge or overwhelm the film with unneeded cameos.  It was a rollicking sci-fi fantasy adventure comedy with great music and a cast that worked well together, even if two of them were CGI characters. 

Of course it is ridiculous to expect the same thing to happen twice.  Either the sequel was going to feel a little like it was trying too hard to be the first movie or it was going to try to build on it.…