HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Monday, May 31, 2021

IT'S A BIKINI WORLD (1967) -- Movie Review by Porfle

 


Currently rewatching: IT'S A BIKINI WORLD (1967), a late entry in the "beach party" genre and one of several imitations of the official American-International Pictures series with Frankie and Annette.

Already-established AIP beach movie stars Deborah Walley (BEACH BLANKET BINGO) and Tommy Kirk (PAJAMA PARTY) are the Frankie and Annette equivalents here, with Deborah playing independent girl Delilah hitting the beach for summer vacation, and Tommy as local lothario Mike, who takes one look and decides to add her to his stable of bikini babes.

Finding her less than receptive to his manly charms and overhearing her desire for a more intellectual type, Mike dons a pair of glasses and disguises himself as his imaginary nerdy twin brother Herbert. 

 



Delilah takes an instant liking to the mild-mannered bookworm and all is well...until, of course, Mike inevitably falls for Delilah and must figure out how to reveal his true identity to her.

The film begins with an awesome main titles sequence in which scenes of teens frolicking on the beach are freeze-framed and transformed into comic-book art. Production values are just a tad chintzier than the AIP's, but locations and photography are pretty much on par.

Energetic performances add to the film's breezy ambience, as does a sprightly Mike Curb score. (This, despite Walley and Kirk reportedly hating the film and considering it a low point in their careers.) The romantic complications are always played lightly and for laughs, and several colorful action scenes are brisk and fun.

 

 


These consist of a series of races held as publicity stunts by beatnik enterpreneur Daddy (the great Sid Haig channeling "Big Daddy" Roth) to promote his lines of brand-name surfboards, skateboards, and even race cars. Delilah, with training by Herbert, competes in each against the arrogant Mike, unaware that he and Herbert are one and the same.

This series of races keeps the film moving at a fast pace when not focusing on the odd love triangle between Delilah, Mike, and Herbert. There are also several scenes taking place in Daddy's monster-themed nightclub, complete with music by the likes of Eric Burdon and the Animals, The Toys, The Gentrys, and The Castaways.

Without an established cast of characters, we don't get the feeling of comradery that exists among the AIP beach party gang. In fact, the only other teen characters we meet are Mike's not-so-bright friend Woody (played amiably by "Monster Mash" legend Bobby "Boris" Pickett) and his girlfriend Pebbles (Suzie Kaye, WEST SIDE STORY, CLAMBAKE).

 

 


Popping up here and there in the cast are Jim Begg (THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN), Carolyn Brandt (RAT PFINK A BOO BOO), and Lori Williams of FASTER PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL! fame.

Scenes from Roger Corman's AIP horror flick ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS also pop up during a movie theater scene (with Woody acting as the clueless third wheel during Herbert and Delilah's movie date) due to the fact that AIP picked this movie up for distribution from the smaller company Trans American Films.

Of note is the fact that this film eschews the official series' tendency toward total cartoony farce and surrealism, as well as characters suddenly breaking out into song.

 

 


It presents instead a more traditional sitcom-style comedy which, despite its exaggerated characters and situations, might actually take place in the real world.

Direction is capably handled by co-writer Stephanie Rothman, who would go on to helm such exploitation staples as THE STUDENT NURSES, TERMINAL ISLAND, and THE WORKING GIRLS.

Surprisingly fun for such a lightweight "beach party" clone, IT'S A BIKINI WORLD should satisfy those with a soft spot for the Frankie and Annette beach pictures which had pretty much run their course. While certainly a lesser effort, it's a pleasantly amusing diversion nevertheless.



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Sunday, May 30, 2021

MEMORIAL DAY (2011) -- Movie Review by Porfle

 


Some war flicks serve up non-stop, blazing battle action for us to pound down popcorn by, while others are dark political nightmares that have us suffering the existential horror of it all.  And then there's MEMORIAL DAY (2011), the kind of war movie that just wants to get inside some soldiers' heads for awhile.

While Staff Sergeant Kyle Vogel (Jonathan Bennett) serves in Iraq, his experiences keep drawing him back to a lazy Memorial Day in 1993 when, as a 13-year-old boy in Minnesota, he found his grandfather's WWII footlocker filled with "souvenirs."  Bud Vogel (James Cromwell) tells Kyle to put it back, but the boy insists on hearing some of the old man's war stories.  Bud makes a deal--three items, three stories, and if Kyle behaves like a man, Bud will talk to him like one.

That special afternoon between Bud and Kyle on the porch, embued with all the golden-hued notalgia of a lemonade commercial, is the heart of MEMORIAL DAY, when the mentally failing old man recalls his precious stories one last time for the boy who is now mature enough to appreciate them.  Kyle's first choice, naturally, is a pistol, but rather than yielding a tale of daring adventure it takes the old man back to one of those days that still haunts him deep in his soul. 

 

 

 
All of the action we see during these flashbacks is peripheral to such emotional trauma, with soldiers such as Bud not only losing beloved comrades but sharing moments of grief and anguish with the enemy as well.  A battle in a Belgian forest in '44 serves mainly to establish the bond between the men involved (along with how Bud happened to get shrapnel from a potato masher in his butt), while another confrontation ends with Bud losing his best friend via an almost anticlimactic final shot.

Director Samuel Fischer handles the WWII sequences in a more traditional style than the "Saving Private Ryan"/"Band of Brothers" look we expect nowadays.  The latter is used during the present-day Kyle's day-to-day experiences in Anbar Province, Iraq, which are also shown to consist of long periods of dull drudgery and mounting tension punctuated by moments of horror and chaos.  

Again, the brief battle scenes are practically beside the point, and one mission to capture a terrorist leader, which is given considerable build-up, is aborted before it begins.

 

 


When a shrapnel injury lands him in the hospital, a sympathetic nurse (Emily Fradenburgh) allows Kyle to wax reminiscent himself, his stories often containing parallels to those of his grandfather as he harkens back to that long-ago Memorial Day.  

 Thus, we learn that a soldier's life is pretty much the same no matter the time or place, with the emotional significance of an event taking precedence over anything else.

Cromwell, who by now could probably play a part like this in his sleep, gives his usual sturdy performance as old Bud, while his son John plays the younger version in flashbacks.  The fact that John looks and sounds so much like his old man, in addition to being a pretty good actor himself, gives these scenes added authenticity.  As the older Kyle, Jonathan Bennett underplays enough to come across as a regular guy. 

 

 


The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby 5.1 sound.  Extras consist of a commentary from director, producer, and actor John Cromwell, and a very brief behind-the-scenes short.

If you're expecting lots of action, be prepared to spend a leisurely afternoon on the porch with Grandpa during much of MEMORIAL DAY, which lives up to its title in a wistful, contemplative, and melancholy way.  This is the story of everyday soldiers doing a job which, at times, happens to exact an overwhelming emotional toll that stays with them for the rest of their lives.  

However, chances are that this well-meaning but ultimately rather bland movie won't affect you nearly that long, because although it does what it sets out to do fairly well, it never comes close to the kind of emotional crescendo that it labors to achieve.



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Saturday, May 29, 2021

PROJECT MOONBASE (1953) -- Movie Review by Porfle

 


Currently watching: PROJECT MOONBASE (1953). This is one of those lower-tier 1950s space thrillers that's fascinating to watch in order to see how various filmmakers envisioned humankind's impending forays into outer space.

While some, such as CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON and FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE, are just pure goofball cheese, this one at least attempts to be a sober, imaginative forecast of a future in which a huge space station orbits the Earth and serves as both a receptacle for shuttle rockets from Earth and a launch pad for LEM-like vehicles to carry astronauts on to the moon and back.

Legendary sci-fi author Robert Heinlein still seems to be cutting his literary teeth here, co-writing the story and screenplay with a callow earnestness that, while fun and somewhat intriguing at times, lacks any hint of his later brilliance.


 

 
The story involves a plot by foreign agents to put an impostor aboard a moon mission sponsored by space agency "Spacom". After the expedition has scouted a suitable landing place for a future mission, the spy will then cause the ship to crash into the space station upon its return, destroying both along with all inhabitants.

Special effects are mildly impressive considering what must've been a pretty low budget, while still retaining ample cheesiness to satisfy "so bad it's good" addicts such as myself who just can't stop watching these hokey space yarns.

Besides the spy, the moon mission crew consists of able female pilot Colonel Briteis (Donna Martell) and Ross Ford as Major Moore, her hardy second-in-command. ("I Dream Of Jeannie" regular Hayden Rourke plays their Earthbound superior, General Greene.) 

 


The fact that Major Moore is also Colonel Briteis' former lover and they broke up under less than amicable circumstances leads to the expected space-friction between the two, which we also expect will be resolved in suitably romantic fashion before the fadeout.

Space station scenes are fun, with the combination of zero gravity plus handy grip shoes making it possible for everyone to walk around on both the floors and ceilings. (Numerous signs remind them: "Please Do Not Walk On Walls.")

Rocketship and moon lander models and effects are basic but adequate, as are the rocky, mountainous moon exteriors with a brilliant starfield suspended over them. 

 



The spacecraft interiors are the usual familiar 1950s-type designs, but somewhat less slapdash and rinky-dink than most.  

G-force accelerations are accompanied, as one might guess, by those silly shots of astronauts lying immobile in their reclining seats as their faces are stretched into ludicrious fixed grimaces.

The crew's flight uniforms consist of light, form-fitting T-shirts and shorts, which, I must say, make Donna Martell one of the film's most pleasing visuals. Others will have to assess their aesthetic effect on the remaining crewmembers.

 

 


I've been eating up these goofball 1950s space thrillers like ice cream for the last few months or so, reliving childhood memories and finally catching up with ones I've missed all these years.

As one of the latter, PROJECT MOONBASE comes through as a prime example of its delightfully odd genre, making it satisfying entertainment for those who savor this kind of fare.

 

 


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THE LOVE BOAT: SEASON TWO, VOLUME TWO -- DVD Review by Porfle

 


Recently I've begun to develop a perverse enjoyment of extremely cheesy 70s and 80s television shows that I wouldn't have been caught dead watching during their first run. Curious to test my newfound ability to withstand anything the likes of Aaron Spelling could launch at me, I was eager to take on one of the all-time undisputed champeens of cheese, "The Love Boat." So as soon as I got my mitts on the new four-disc, 12-episode DVD collection THE LOVE BOAT: SEASON TWO, VOLUME TWO, it was on, baby! DING!

Actually, once you resign yourself to how silly and totally corny it all is, the show isn't that hard to like at all. If you're looking for "Playhouse 90", you're on the wrong boat. And who doesn't want to spend a little time on a cruise ship with a fun-loving crew and dozens of pop culture icons gettin' it on with each other? As one of the first and best of these "Grand Hotel"-style multi-plot, multi-guest star shows, "The Love Boat" is simply a boatload of dumb fun.

The first episode alone features none other than Abe Vigoda and Nancy Walker sharing romantic dialogue on deck with a scenic sunset in the background. Also representing the older set in later episodes are: Ray "Scarecrow" Bolger and Martha "Poli-Grip" Raye as high-school sweethearts who haven't seen each other in forty years; Arthur Godfrey and Minnie Pearl as eloping lovebirds on the run from their overprotective offspring (Elinor Donahue and Warren Berlinger); and Barry Nelson and Nanette Fabray as an empty-nest couple whose plans for a round-the-world vacation are deep-sixed by news of a surprise package.

 



One of the best of the show's December-December flings takes place when rich widow Celeste Holm winds up on the same cruise with her vacationing chauffeur, John Mills, and they discover that they're in love with each other. The awkward situation builds to a romantic crescendo (with that same sunset in the background) which actually has some pretty decent writing for a change, and a couple of seasoned actors with the talent to turn it into something substantial. The director goes in for some tight closeups in this scene because he knows that old pros Holm and Mills are working this material for all it's worth.

On the flip-side, where things are just plain goofy, we get Ron "Horshack" Palillo as a magician filling in for his brother in the ship's lounge and falling for his pretty assistant (Melinda Naud), who, incredibly, returns his affections. Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara play harried parents who can't get any private time away from their gaggle of brats, including a fledgling Corey Feldman. Roddy McDowell, surely one of the most ubiquitous actors of all time, plays a constantly sneezing dweeb who discovers he's allergic to his demanding bride-to-be Tammy Grimes. We also get to witness the startling sight of "Match Game" stars Gene Rayburn and Fannie Flagg sucking face like there's no tomorrow while her yappy little dog (the specially-billed "Cricket") tries to come between them. And...omigod...Charo. 'Nuff said.

The biggest surprise is that I didn't remember how serious some of these stories could get. We're talking actual soap-opera-level melodrama here. A man (Randy Mantooth) introduces his girlfriend (Cathy Lee Crosby) to his dad (Robert Mandan)...the girlfriend and the dad fall in love...the son blows his top and dad slaps him! Elsewhere, Craig Stevens is a WWII vet wounded on Omaha Beach, suddenly reunited after all these years with the only woman he ever loved (Cyd Charisse), only to find her attached to some young French stud named Francoise. This is classic "women's picture" stuff just like all the studios were churning out back in the 40s and 50s.

 



Even when Sonny Bono guests as Deacon Dark, a ludicrous cross between Alice Cooper and Gene Simmons, it's played mainly for bathos because Sonny really wants to be a lounge singer (despite resistance from his materialistic manager, Arte Johnson). This is compounded when he meets a cute deaf girl who falls for the real Sonny and "listens" to his sensitive ivory-tinking by feeling the vibrations in his piano. Talk about laying it on with a trowel--you gotta love it!

Gavin McLeod plays Captain Stubing, the distinguished and very proper main man of the Love Boat, and it's nice to see McLeod in a successful starring role after all those years as a second banana on shows like "McHale's Navy" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Too bad he's usually the straight man for his wacky underlings here, since he was always pretty adept at comedy himself. He does get his share of dramatic subplots and sappy love affairs, as evidenced by this hair-curling exchange:

"Hey, hey...eyes as lovely as yours shouldn't be clouded with tears."
"You say the nicest things."
"Only to the nicest people."

Future four-term Iowa congressman Fred Grandy is Yeoman-Purser "Gopher" Smith, easily the biggest idiot on the ship. Gopher takes center stage in some of the silliest stories, as when his supermodel dreamgirl (the always delightful Hayley Mills) comes aboard and he retreats into a Walter Mitty-style fantasy world, or the one in which he overhears a couple of murder-mystery writers (Peter Lawford, Dana Wynter) discussing their next book and thinks they're planning to kill the Captain. Surprisingly, the season finale features Gopher in one of the most dramatic scenes of the whole set when he has an extremely emotional reconciliation with his estranged father (Bob Cummings).

The concept of Bob Cummings and a Godzilla-like Ethel Merman playing Gopher's parents is almost too much to bear, as is the big finale with father and son crooning a comedy version of "Sonny Boy" to each other during the crew's "Talent Night" show. And yet, like everything else that happens on this series, I feel compelled to watch. I guess it's just one of the mysteries of life.

 



As Isaac, the ship's bartender with the chipper attitude and big kid smile, Ted Lange is one of the brightest performers on the show. Isaac is always there to help the passengers get sloppy drunk and to dole out helpful advice when they unload their sob stories on him. I like the episode where Isaac's old friend Reggie Jackson books passage to get away from all the constant fan adoration, only to have his ego crushed when nobody on board recognizes him. But even Isaac has his serious side, which we see when he tries to help a troubled young girl who's a convicted shoplifter by getting her a job in the gift shop. Sure enough, a pair of expensive pearl earrings turn up missing.

Bernie Kopell as ship's medic "Doc" Bricker is another TV veteran who excels at light comedy while also handling some pretty bleak material, such as the episode in which his old surgeon friend (Richard Anderson) is dealing with the loss of an arm in a car crash while his wife (Diana Muldaur), stricken with guilt for having caused the accident, suffers an addiction to prescription drugs. Less turgid and a lot more fun is the time one of Doc's several ex-wives (Tina Louise) hires narcissistic pretty-boy Lyle Waggoner to pose as her new fiance to make Doc jealous.

Lauren Tewes, who, sadly, would later have to leave the show due to her own real-life drug problems, is all winsome and chipper as cruise director Julie McCoy. Her character comes to the fore in one of the set's two feature-length episodes, in which Julie's high-school graduating class has its ten-year reunion on board the ship. This episode is loaded with guest stars and subplots, including a self-destructing alcoholic teacher (Raymond Burr), a wheelchair-bound Viet Nam vet (Michael Cole), his best friend who is wracked with guilt for evading the draft (John Rubinstein), and a heavy-set gal (Conchata Ferrell) who has a fling with Doc until she suspects him of ridiculing her behind her back. Also appearing in this one are Christopher George as a famous TV star and Bob "Gilligan" Denver as the class dork.

Looking cuter than I've ever seen her in anything else, Kim Darby (TRUE GRIT) plays a classmate trying to uncover the identity of a secret admirer within the group's ranks, which gives her an excuse to get romantic with just about all the male guest stars. Julie, meanwhile, shows her ruthless side as she tries to steal handsome disco instructor Michael Lembeck away from a pre-nosejob Lisa Hartman. Much of the episode's later scenes take place during a big disco party, which is typical of the show's obsession with this much-reviled dance craze. There's nothing like seeing a ballroom full of people with absolutely no sense of rhythm boogeying down like a bunch of brain-damaged storks.

In addition to those already mentioned, this collection's incredible roster of guest stars includes Phyllis Davis, "Hollywood Squares" host Peter Marshall, Barbara Rush, Elaine Joyce, Bobby Van, Carol Lynley, Hans Conried, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Ben Murphy, Donna Pescow, David Hedison, Juliet Mills, Telma Hopkins, Debbie Allen, Maren Jensen, Dennis Cole, Samantha Eggar, Paul Burke, Arlene Dahl, James Dobson, Leslie Nielsen, Jill St. John, and Charlie Callas. Ken Berry and Beth Howland star in one of the show's most moving segments about a woman who is trying in vain to be accepted by the daughters of the widower she's just married. Howland, of TV's "Alice", is particularly good here.

Aside from the opening titles and some of the stock footage used on the show, the picture quality here is pretty good. The DVD image is 4.3 full-screen with Dolby Digital sound. English and Spanish subtitles and closed-captioning are available. Each episode comes with its original promo, which is the set's sole bonus feature.

By the time I got to the final episodes of THE LOVE BOAT: SEASON TWO, VOLUME TWO, I was actually looking forward to the next sappy romantic adventures aboard the Pacific Princess. Not only that, but I caught myself singing along with the theme song! Aaron Spelling strikes again, and another hapless TV junkie winds up with a Gopher on his back.



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Friday, May 28, 2021

Own the Supernatural Action Thriller "LAZARUS" Today -- See Trailer HERE!

 


Supernatural Action Thriller "LAZARUS" Available Today


From Samuel Goldwyn Films


Los Angeles, CA (MAY 28, 2021) – The supernatural action film LAZARUS is now available to buy and rent via On-Demand and Digital platforms, today! LAZARUS had its debut on FOX’s free streaming service Tubi this past February, before coming to VOD.

The film stars: Sean Riggs (S.W.A.T.,You), Costas Mandylor (Saw IV), Aeriel Miranda (Straight Outta Compton), Shane Brolly (Underworld), Nicki Micheaux (In The Dark), Noel Gugliemi (Training Day), Linc Hand (68 Whiskey), Adamo Palladino (Becoming Bond) and R&B superstar Mya (Chicago)! LAZARUS will also be available on DVD this June 15.

 

 

In the film's story, a man is killed, but his death is a brief affair. Upon regaining consciousness, he discovers he has been gifted with extraordinary powers - that allow him to super-heroically fight the organization responsible for plunging his city into darkness.

LAZARUS was written and directed by R.L Scott ("Vigilant."). The film was produced by R.L. Scott, and Justin “Jtrx” Echols and executive produced by: Sean Riggs, Eddie Riggs, plus Edward Davie. This exciting title is now available on Digital platforms, across the USA and Canada.


See where to get it here: http://www.samuelgoldwynfilms.com/lazarus/



WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

 

 


About Samuel Goldwyn Films:

Samuel Goldwyn Films is a major, independently owned and operated motion-picture company that develops, produces and distributes innovative feature films. The company is distributing the 2021 Academy Award® Winning Film ANOTHER ROUND and 2021 Academy Award® Nominated Film THE MAN WHO SOLD HIS SKIN.



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Thursday, May 27, 2021

"Last Drive-In Season 3" With Joe Bob Briggs -- New Episode Friday Goes Deep Into Horror


THE LAST DRIVE-IN SEASON 3


Hosted by Joe Bob Briggs


New episode this Friday, May 28
9 p.m. Eastern time/6 p.m. Pacific


Only on Shudder


We're going Old School with Friday night's episode of "The Last Drive-In," meaning Joe Bob will be going deep deep deep into the history, background and critical reception of two movies.

The first is one of the most stunningly original horror films of the past ten years,
and the second is an eighties oddity so strange that people are still fighting over it 40 years later.

▪     Both films will be on Shudder TV live stream in the US and Canada on 5/28, then on demand 5/30
▪     5/28 livestream not available via Amazon Prime or AMC+; will go on demand on both 5/30


 

Follow along on social media every Friday during the season at:

@therealjoebob

https://www.instagram.com/joebobbriggsofficial/

www.facebook.com/JoeBobBriggs


@kinky_horror
 

©2021 Joe Bob Briggs | NY, NY


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