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The War of the Planets (1966)

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Italian science fiction often runs into a problem.  The problem is to make a decent science fiction film - and not just something to keep the kids at the theater while the parents go shopping - is a proper budget.  Italian film studios were good at cranking out movies on a regular basis, and the Gamma 1 series, of which this is the second movie, was no exception.  The reason they could do it is because most of the movies they made didn't need a large budget.   The War of the Planets attempts to make up for it in any way it can.  While The Wild, Wild Planet , the first in the series, had futuristic sets that looked like wind-up toys, the miniatures this time around are much improved.  Not to the point where anyone would mistake this for an American or even British production, but they are not bad.  Also, for all the criticism this series of movies gets, it was never meant to be hard sci-fi, but rather more in the Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon fashion.  The result is a series of movies

Freaks (1932)

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It is amazing how the span of almost a century changes things.  Freaks has long been considered a cult classic even if audiences only have the butchered version to enjoy.  If Todd Browning had made this even 30 years later it would have been controversial, but it still would have been a hit.  In 1932 it was an unfortunate career ender for Browning, as the movie was banned in several states and countries and any goodwill MGM had going into making the movie was gone once they had to pull it from the market.  Hans (Harry Earles) is a little person that is part of a circus sideshow.  He is engaged to Frieda (Daisy Earles), another performer of similar stature, but he seems to have also caught the eye of trapeze artist Cleopatra (Olga Baclanova).  Soon he starts to respond to her charms, not knowing that it is part of a plot between her and strong-man Hercules (Henry Victor) to get as much money from him as possible. Frieda and the other performers suspect this, as well as the ones more sym

Basket Case 3 (1991)

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Basket Case was a strange little film that got director and writer Frank Henenlotter noticed, but it has also been a bit of an albatross for him.  Its existence has made it hard at times for him to get investors interested in the movies he wants to do; not because they have any problem with it, but because the question always comes up about another sequel.  Henenlotter never intended to do a sequel in the first place, but relented and pitched Basket Case 2 along with Frankenhooker in order to help get the latter made. Basket Case 2 was quite the departure from the first movie, removing the brothers from the gritty New York setting of the first and having them hide out in a mansion with a number of imaginative freaks that look similar to the creatures in Nightbreed .  It was still gory enough to carry on from the first, but the comedic aspect was emphasized more and, this time, it left things on a definite cliffhanger. It has been a number of months sense Duane (Kevin VanHentenryck)

It (1990)

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I had mixed feelings when I heard this was coming out.  It is one of my favorite Stephen King novels, and it has a lot in it.  There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, bloody killings, many scenes that are difficult to reproduce on film and, of course, some controversial parts involving underage sexual activity.  I never expect the latter to be in any adaptation, but it wasn't something that changed the story in any way when left out.  In 1990 an adaptation of the novel for theatrical release would have been a massive expense, so my main concern was that it was being adapted into a television mini-series. Even though it was on television that didn't mean it would be terrible.  Salem's Lot was a worthwhile adaptation, and within the span of 11 years much had changed in what could be shown on television.  Then there was the fact that Tim Curry was to play Pennywise, one of the most well-known horror villains, and he was almost certain to get it right.  This was most important

Eaten Alive (1976)

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Tobe Hooper had a drive-in hit with The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , which became one of the most revered, and reviled, horror films of all time.  The movie was a visceral, though rather bloodless, descent into murder and madness, and remains effective to this day.  Watching it is something one has to plan for as it can be an exhausting experience.   It was a while before a follow-up happened and, when it did, Hooper and Kim Henkel, who had co-written Chain Saw , set up in a Hollywood soundstage to make a backwoods exploitation film based on a man named Joe Ball who murdered a number of people at his motel in the 1930s and was said to have fed them to his alligators out back.  This time they didn't hold back on the blood, but at the same time Hooper seemed to have forgotten what made Chain Saw so popular. Judd (Neville Brand) owns the Starlight Motel next to a swamp in East Texas.  He also has set up a sketchy zoo, the star of which is a Nile Crocodile that he keeps out back.  The cr

'Gator Bait (1973)

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Beverly and Ferd Sebastian were a husband-and-wife filmmaking team.  Making their first films in the 1960s, Beverly branched out into writing scripts, bringing the whole production business further in-house.  Besides her and her husband, their children and other relatives would often appear in their movies, which were general drive-in fare and exploitation films. One of those films they made was The Single Girls , a movie about swingers being stalked by a killer, and one of the members of the cast was Claudia Jennings, who happened to be Playmate of the Month in 1970.  She had been building her acting career since getting noticed in Playboy  and asked Beverly once The Single Girls was complete if she could write a script specifically for her, just not give her a ton of dialog.  From that one of the most famous hixploitation films was born.  Desiree Thibodeau (Jennings) is a Cajun woman who lives and hunts in a swamp in Louisiana.  Since she doesn't have a permit, local law enforcem

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

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The history of Cannon Pictures confuses and frustrates me.  This studio should have been, and for a while it was, as successful as any of Roger Corman's ventures.  For the most part they specialized in the same type of films, only Cannon seemed to have found there niche with crime dramas and sequels rather than sticking with horror and exploitation.   The problem was Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus wanted Cannon to be more than what it was.  When that failed it came to a number of high-profile hail Maries that were meant to save the studio from bankruptcy.  In 1987 they made one last attempt, purchasing the rights to Superman from Ilya and Alexander Salkind, working with Warner Bros. for distribution and, at a budget of $36 million, putting into production the fourth film in the lucrative series.  Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) starts contemplating what to do as his days protecting Earth continue.  He decides to sell his parents' farm, leaving an artifact on the property in case