9 December 2017

FABULOUS FILMS PRESENTS: A TRIO OF KILLER B-MOVIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES!/THE DEADLY MANTIS/THE ANGRY RED PLANET: A TRIO OF KILLER B-MOVIES FROM FABULOUS FILMS.
REVIEWS BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I love a nice sci-fi B-movie from the 'Fifties, a time in history when parts of the world were still reeling from the devastating effects of the atomic bomb, and paranoia was rife during the Cold War period that saw countries mistrusting each other like never before.

THE KILLER B-MOVIE collection from FABULOUS FILMS, a gorgeously-coloured nine-movie box-set containing some of the best flicks of that era on nine separate discs, is just the ticket for fans of the B-movie everywhere.

THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES! (1955), my favourite of these three movies featured here today, would actually make a bloody good psychological horror film as well as a B-movie. No physical many-peepered 'Beast' is on the rampage here at first but, instead, a terrifying form of mind control that puts the willies up a small family trying to eke out a living on a ranch in an isolated part of the California desert.

Allen and Carol love each other all right, but Carol is as miserable as hell living way out in the sticks with no neighbours, on a ranch that's been losing money hand-over-fist for years now. She dislikes and mistrusts her husband's ranch-hand, a mute known only as 'Him' who lives in separate quarters in their back-yard. Nothing Allen can say can smooth things over for the bitter and ill-tempered Carol. I get Carol, I really do. She doesn't want to be like this. She's just so unhappy with the way her life's turned out.

She's jealous of her own daughter, the pretty cowgirl Sandy who'll be escaping off to college when the new term starts, because her own life has turned out so shit and she begrudges Sandy the life that's ahead of her. You can't really blame her. Parents being envious of their kids, who have it all before them, so to speak, is a powerful and damn-near unavoidable emotion that probably dates back to caveman times.

Then one day, out of the blue, a strange craft from God-knows-where crash-lands in the desert unbeknownst to Allen and his little family. All they know is that a terrific humming noise ('What's your favourite humming noise?' Father Purcell from clerical sitcom FATHER TED...!) has shattered all their windows and all of Carol's best glass-ware and wedding china.

Then the animals around the ranch start acting all weird and hostile to humans, from Sandy's beloved pet Alsatian doggie Duke to, literally, all the birds in the area. The film even resembles Alfred Hitchcock's superb horror film THE BIRDS at one point.

The humming noise and flashing lights out in the desert seem to be drawing both 'Him' and Sandy into its magnetic presence. What exactly is out there in the dry, dusty Californian desert, and is the love between Allen and a terrified Carol strong enough to keep the as-yet unknown quantity that is the 'Beast' from taking Sandy away from them forever...? Ten out of ten for spooky atmosphere here and an excellent, slow build-up of tension.

No need to chafe at the bit waiting for the monster to show up in THE DEADLY MANTIS (1957). Thirty-three minutes into the film, the monstrously ugly and gigantic Praying Mantis, woken from its million-year slumber in the frozen Arctic, pops its head up over the horizon to put the fear of God into the Eskimos unlucky enough to be in its line of vision.

The Praying Mantis is surely the ugliest and freakiest insect known to man. A giant one is shown to great chilling effect in the closing scenes of THE MIST, the brilliant movie adaptation of Stephen King's short story. To take one and make it weigh a thousand tonnes is a really good way to give a science fiction/horror movie a villain worth wetting yourself over...! Plus it can fly. Any insect that can fly as well as scuttle and scurry is the stuff of nightmares.

Only three people can, seemingly, stop the rampaging Mantis from destroying Washington D.C., among other places. These are a palaeontologist- no, not Ross Geller from FRIENDS!-
who also happens to be a Richard Gere-lookalike, a dashing and handsome military Commander and a female photojournalist, herself a pointy-bosomed dead ringer for Jane Wyman. She runs a magazine like NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC out of the Natural History Museum where she works side-by-side with the silver-haired palaeontologist.

It's quite funny when the little Corporal tells his Commander at the military base in the film that the palaeontologist has arrived, and he's 'brought a woman with him! A female woman. I thought they'd stopped making those.' Showing us exactly how sex-starved the poor lonely soldiers at the Arctic weather station have become, haha.

Marge the camerawoman is a big hit with the soldiers and so are her pointy 'Fifties bosoms, weapons of mass destruction if ever I've seen 'em. Funny how those pointy 'Fifties titties always looked like they were locked and loaded and pointed straight at you. Take your eye out with one of those things, you could.

Sexism is alive and well also in THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1960), the planet in question being Mars. A sexy but traumatised red-haired female scientist-type person is in a hospital bed. She's recounting her terrifying trip to Mars in a rocket-ship with three other people to the keenly-watching hospital personnel.

It was the first trip to Mars by Earthlings ever, so it was quite a big deal in the science world. Science was always my worst subject at school, even worse than the dreaded Maths. I must confess to finding science fiction a helluva lot more interesting than science fact, lol. I had no fewer than two cute science teachers on my journey through school but a big fat 'D' in Biology convinced me that my future did not lie in the realm of test-tubes and litmus paper.

Anyway, Iris- nicknamed 'Irish' by her randy co-traveller Colonel Tom O'Banion because of her red barnet and Irish surname, Ryan- made it to Mars with the aforementioned Tom, an elderly professor called Theodore and Tom's military underling, the wisecracking Sam who spends most of the film stroking his massive tool, a gun that has the power to freeze things.

The artwork that's done to recreate the planet Mars when they step out of the rocket-ship is utterly stunning and it's all done in the vibrant red we typically associate with that planet. The vegetation is hostile, the giant spider-monsters are hostile, the water in the lake is hostile, as are the ferocious water-monsters and, when the crew sensibly decide to high-tail it back to the much-safer Earth, a hostile force of unknown origins refuses to let them leave... So, um, Mars is a hostile planet then? No shit, Sherlock, haha.

The sexism as exhibited from Colonel Tom to 'Irish' is hilarious and she doesn't seem to mind it one little bit, as befitting a well-behaved 'Fifties moll who knows her place in the scheme of things. One gets the impression that, if Colonel Tom were to tweak her titty, slap her on the backside and tell her to 'Run along and make me a cuppa kawfee, Toots,' she'd merely giggle and toddle off to do his bidding, flapping her fingers flirtatiously at him as she goes in the universal gesture that says 'Oh, you...!'

Anyway, there you go, three excellent sci-fi B-movie gems to tickle your fancy, as it were. THE KILLER B-MOVIE COLLECTION, containing 9 separate films and discs, is available to buy now from FABULOUS FILMS. It contains the following superb old classic B-movies:

THE BLOB.
DR. CYCLOPS.
THE ANGRY RED PLANET.
THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US.
REPTILICUS.
THE TIME TRAVELLERS.
THE DEADLY MANTIS.
THE BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES!
THE MAN FROM PLANET X.


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com









8 December 2017

EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT PRESENTS: 56, RUE PIGALLE. (1949) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.

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56, RUE PIGALLE. (1949) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY WILLY ROZIER. STARRING JACQUES DUMESNIL, MARIE DÉA, AIMÉ CLARIOND, RENÉ BLANCARD, JEAN GEOFFROY AND JANINE MILLER. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'We love each other, and we've made our love into a terrible chain that hurts us with every step.'

This is the saddest love story ever, with the exception maybe of Noel Coward's BRIEF ENCOUNTER, the saddest film ever made, bar none. Yes, I know that WATERSHIP DOWN is very sad too but BRIEF ENCOUNTER just edges it for me, lol. Cute endangered rabbits notwithstanding...

I love a good sniffle into a hanky while watching a film, and if it's caused by the plot of the movie, well, so much the better, lol. I had a terrifically miserable time watching 56, RUE PIGALLE and therefore I recommend it heartily to any of my readers out there (I know that there are at least two of you, I have your e-mail addresses, haha!) who enjoy a good sad film also.

We'll leave the comedies to the happy folk out there. There are some of us who prefer a good wallow in the pain and suffering of fictional characters. Why'd ye think I read LITTLE WOMEN every Christmas...? Heh-heh-heh. Let's take our customary quick look at the plot.

Jean Vigneron is a French (well, they're all French; it's a French film!) naval engineer and a celebrated yachtsman in his spare time. During a sailboat race, his vessel is clipped by the boat of a rather mysterious, attractive brunette female, a chance encounter that sets off a chain of events that soon takes on a momentum all of its own.

The woman is the beautiful but desperately unhappy Ines de Montalban, the wife of the super-rich South American businessman Ricardo de Montalban. This Ricardo fellow phones up Jean and arranges for the three of them to meet up for lunch, so that Ines can apologise in person for pranging Jean's boat.

I'm not sure if Jean ever gets the promised apology, but he and Ines immediately (can't you guess?) fall in love. She's much younger than her hubby, quite obviously a trophy wife and, as she tells Jean herself, she's sick to death of his gambling, drinking and womanising. I'm also sensing undertones of domestic abuse here too, possibly. Ricardo is a forceful man and he may quite easily be a bully towards Ines also. She has the air of a woman accustomed to maltreatment.

The newly-created couple, Jean and Ines, make the fatal mistake of expressing their love for each other in letters, as was the style of the time. The letters fall into the hands of Jean's sneaky valet, Lucien Bonnet, who's not above a spot of blackmail to earn himself a few grubby francs. Jean pays the exorbitant agreed-upon sum but then, a terrible event occurs at the titular 56, Rue Pigalle that turns the lives of Jean, Ines and Ricardo upside-down forever...

The film is beautifully shot in black-and-white. The scenes set in the leafy, verdant but rainy Congo are just gorgeous to look at. The courtroom drama bits are great too, but I think I prefer the Congo scenes overall. There are some bare boobies on display from the native women, which was rather daring even for 1949. Naughty Willy Rozier...!

I love the scene in the nightclub where Nadia is singing so meaningfully and pointedly about the love that never ends that Ricardo snaps and belts her right in the kisser. He knows damned well that her little ditty is meant for him, so Nadia can't really complain if he reacts in exactly the way she must have known he would. Silly Nadia.

This wonderful but seldom-seen film noir from Willy Rozier comes free, gratis and for nothing as an extra feature with his other, better-known film, MANINA, THE LIGHTHOUSE-KEEPER'S DAUGHTER, also known as MANINA, THE GIRL IN THE BIKINI. That film is out now in a special Blu-Ray release from EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT.

Brigitte Bardot stars as Manina in one of her earliest roles and it's a great old adventure film about treasure-hunting but I really think I prefer 56, RUE PIGALLE. Its misery scale is off the charts on account of all the thwarted love and so on, and that always appeals to me more than other cinematic themes, however tantalising they may appear.

I must tell you guys about another extremely interesting extra feature on the MANINA disc. In Paris on October 6th 1949, the director of the two above-mentioned films, Willy Rozier, fought a duel, an actual three-minute old-fashioned duel, with doctors and seconds on hand and everything, with a film critic called Francois Chalais.

Chalais had pissed Rozier off big-time by slagging off 56, RUE PIGALLE. I've seen this film and I can tell you that it's really, really good, so God knows what Chalais was basing his opinions on. Anyway, Rozier was the better fencer in the end and the duel concluded swiftly when he nicked Chalais lightly on the arm.

The full duel is included for your viewing pleasure on the MANINA disc. It makes for utterly incredible watching. Two grown men, in a park in Paris, it looks like, slugging it out over an insult one man had dealt the other. How was this even legal? The whole thing is bizarre and eccentric and even kind of funny in a seriously warped kind of way, and it's all there on camera for the world to remember.

I wonder if I could get away with challenging my own critics to a duel, the way Homer Simpson 'glove-slapped' folks who'd done him injury in the episode of THE SIMPSONS about the 'tomacco.' Thing is, I don't fence and I don't own any swords or know of any doctors who'd be cuckoo enough to condone such a wacky act of madness by attending. Better stick to hiding behind my computer, I suppose. That's how everyone else does it, lol. Ain't life grand...?


AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com