Six people from different walks of life (and by that we mean 6 middle class white men) meet in a train carriage. One of them, the aptly named Dr Schreck, is a tarot card practitioner and volunteers to read all their fortunes. This goes about as well as you’d expect in a horror film, and all five passengers learn of the terrible fates about to befall them. Should they live long enough to experience it, that is…
This horror anthology is clearly inspired by Dead of Night, and while it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, it is very fun and entertaining. Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are wonderful as always, and Donald Sutherland looks very much like his son (who Sister the Oldest may or may not have had a huge crush on in the early nineties… Think Lost Boys/Young Guns era).
Starring: Rita Tushingham, Ray Brooks, Michael Crawford, Donal Donnelly
Runtime: 1h 25min
First off, we do apologize for the sporadic posting – it’s partly to stall for time until we can get our hands on the next movies on the list (apparently, some are on their way!), but also partly because working from home actually turned out to be more time consuming than going into work, so we’re sort of a bit swamped… We will do our best though, and hope you all can be patient with us in these strange times.
Basically, an incel (Crawford) and a sleezy philanderer (and potential rapist) (Brooks) live in the same building, the former being driven a bit cray-cray by the latter’s long line of conquests. And also by the young girls in the school he works in who play netball in short skirts. The harlots!
Things change when artist Tom (Donnelly) moves into their spare room, and Female Character/Object Nancy (Tushingham) arrives in town. Tom and Colin (incel-dude) meet Nancy while she’s looking for the YWCA and bring her home to be victimized by Tolan (rapey-dude). However, after some really weird stuff goes down, she decides she’s attracted to Colin instead.
Don’t get us wrong, there were things about this which we liked. The bed moving sequence is epic, we loved all the gags with doors opening and closing, and we really enjoyed to pace of the dialogue and the Greek choir of judgy people in the background commenting on everything that happened.
We also kind of have a little sort of girl crush on Rita Tushingham. But we were a bit let down by her character. When she was first introduced, we thought she might be at least slightly sharp – the way she saw through the shop clerk and mocked his insincere flattery. However, once she started actually falling for Tolan’s crap even after she was CLEARLY very uncomfortable with his attention, we gave up. She wasn’t a person after all.
That being said, the scene with them in the white room was very good, if only because the interaction between Nancy and Tolan was so very, very uncomfortable and rapey. Not that Colin is much better. Tolan and Colin are just misogynistic in different ways – none of them seemed to see women as people, just objects to be desired and earned.
Overall, this gave the impression of being set in some weird fantasy world, the rules of which we were not informed. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – we tend to enjoy being thrown into those worlds. It’s just that this one didn’t engage us. There are good gags and a good pace, but otherwise this struck us as a bit rapey, incely, and dated. Is it possible we misread it? Of course! But we’re still not sold…
After a long and strange morning ritual (who goes through all that trouble to grind beans and make French press coffee and then NOT let it steep??? You’re basically drinking beige water at that point), Sergeant Harry Palmer (Caine) of the Ministry of Defence goes into work and is given a new mission recovering the misplaced scientific equipment.
The “insubordinate trickster” Palmer starts to track down the main suspect, Albanian scientist-stealer “Bluejay” (Gatliff), alongside fellow spies and officers, including love interest Jean Courtney (Lloyd). However, it becomes clearer and clearer that there is a mole inside the British Army. Who can it be?
Can you do better than The Ipcress File if you’re in the mood for an espionage thriller with brainwashed scientists, sexual tension, double crossing weasels, cheeky yet charming scoundrels, and some sort of cooking fetish? Possibly. But you can certainly do a hell of a lot worse!
Michael Caine is more likable than he has any right to be, and we enjoyed the bureaucracy of espionage – you never see a single L101 in a Bond-film! We also loved the exchange in the parking garage, the library (we want one!), the bowler hats, all the lamps, the shot composition, and the sort of jazzy/noiry music.
What we learned: Don’t slouch like a pregnant camel. Also, Sister the Youngest learned the advantages of a revolver vs. an automatic for when you want to get away with a crime. Sister the Oldest has known for a very long time…
Seriously though, The Hill is horrible and great and disturbing. It’s one of those movies we would never watch again (too frustrating!) but that we’re very grateful we’ve seen. And we’ll never stop encouraging others to watch it (although we’re not really selling it, are we..?). You can feel, smell and taste it. It is extremely intense, but worth watching, if only just once.
Freddie Clegg (Stamp) is a socially awkward butterfly collector who’s convinced that the only reason he can’t get a date is because women won’t take the time to get to know him. Then one day he wins a large sum of money, buys a remote farmhouse, and decides to test his theory by kidnapping Miranda Grey (Eggar) – an art student he’s been stalking for a while.
After the initial shock of having been drugged and taken by a psychopath, Miranda decides the only way she’ll leave the house alive is if she plays along with her deranged “host.” She agrees to stay for four weeks, during which time Freddie believes he can Beauty-and-the-Beast her into falling in love with him.
The Collector may be from 1965 (based on a 1963 novel) but the parallels to certain contemporary movements are impossible to ignore. Freddie definitely doesn’t see himself as a bad guy (he’s a Nice Guy, you see – just misunderstood), but he also doesn’t see Miranda as human. She is only there to fulfill his needs – she has none of her own. And when she fails to act the way he wants her to, she has no more value to him.
We absolutely loved this one, and were on the edge of our seat throughout. Terence Stamp was amazing as the psychopathic Freddie – his physicality as well as his sudden and chilly shifts in mood and attitude were fascinating to watch.
Samantha Eggar is similarly engaging as Miranda – she never loses her defiance despite having to negotiate and play along with her kidnapper. She, like us, never quite loses hope that she might eventually escape this hell.
If you’re a fan of psychological horror and/or serial killers, The Collector is a classic and you simply must check it out. And what better time to watch a movie about someone being held against their will in a remote house than in the midst of a pandemic in which we’re being forced to stay inside our houses? If nothing else it will put your own isolation into perspective. (We hope you’re doing well though, and that you’re not too lonely, wherever you are. Stay inside and stay safe!)
What we learned: NEVER hit them once and then try to run. You keep hitting until there’s nothing left but splattered brain matter (theoretically of course. Please do not organize a raid on our apartments. Or search our basement).
In the near future (from 1965 so, now..?), people are given an outlet for violent tendencies and aggression through “The Big Hunt” – a game in which each participant gets five rounds as hunter and five as victim. The idea is that this will stop people from going to war. You’re licensed to kill your victim and your hunter, and if you win ten rounds there’s a big prize waiting for you!
One of the greatest hunters is Caroline Meredith (Andress) – a woman with deadly boobs and the wits to go with them. But when she’s pitted against Italian pro Marcello Poletti (Mastroianni) she meets her match. In every sense.
This thing was insane and we loved it! The ’60s-inspired futuristic fashion is amazing, and the entire movie is sexy, stylish, campy fun. We loved the dancing, the cow print dress, the insanity of Marcello’s sun worshipping cult (what the h*** was that all about?), Caroline’s deadly boobs, the random people killing each other in the background, and Marcello’s wife and girlfriend going off on their own spree.
This is one of the most entertaining episodes of Spy vs. Spy you’ll ever see, and an interesting take on a futuristic dystopia. But a stylish, sexy dystopia. With excellent fashion (and government controlled culling of the elderly, but we’re not supposed to focus on that..).
We would love to watch this on the big screen at some point as a normal TV could never do it justice. And we encourage everyone to do the same if you ever get the chance once social distancing and quarantines are over. We’re also wondering just how many drugs were involved in the making of it…
As attentive readers may have noticed, we have now skipped a few numbers. That is because Edgar has recently edited the list and added a few more movies to the earlier years. Hopefully, we’ll get around to watching them and adding them as soon as the Corona crisis is over. However, for now the library is closed and we just have to work with what we have. That also means that we might have to skip a few upcoming movies as well since we can’t get our grabby (and quite possibly infected) hands on them. Not to worry though – we’ll make up for it as soon as we can. For now, were just happy that the Norwegian government are taking precautions and doing their best to keep us all safe.
Disclaimer done, now on to the good stuff! Simon of the Desert is a weird one, which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody consideringBuñuel’searlierworks. Basically, Simon (Brook) is super pious. Like, really incredibly pious. And humble. Let’s not forget it. In fact, he’s so pious and humble that he disowns his own mother (Santoveña) because he needs to concentrate on God and being pious and humble.
Still, you can’t walk around being as humble as Simon without drawing the attention of the devil him/herself (Pinal). Once you set yourself on a literal pedestal as the best person in the world, Satan will want to get in on this action and prove you wrong. But who will win? The fallen angel or the oh so pious man?
This was amazing. We loved the skipping brother Matthew/Matías (Félix), the inner monologue, the mix of time periods, the incredibly unsubtle Satan, and the coffin. Don’t ask. The film looks beautiful and some of the close-ups reminded us a lot of the gorgeous The Passion of Joan of Arc.
Besides taking one for the team by socially distancing himself from everyone though, Simon’s pursuit of holiness and divinity seems extremely selfish and self-indulgent. He’s not really trying to save the world or anything, just himself. That being said, he does perform miracles which the villagers surrounding him take for granted so maybe he was just fed up with not being appreciated. At least Satan gave him something to focus on – Pinal is very entertaining and a lot more interesting than Simon. But then again, that is always the case, isn’t it?
So, here’s the thing. We enjoyed the movie. We loved Catherine Deneuve. The story is intriguing, and the men are sleazy and disgusting. However, watching Polanski-movies is difficult in light of, well, him… (And yes, we know this might seem a bit hypocritical seeing as we actually did review Knife in the Water. We have just given it a bit more thought since then. And sure, there are probably lots of other problematic directors as well, but in this case there is so little doubt and it is so well publicized that it cannot be ignored.)
It’s the continuous debate of whether one can truly separate the artist from the art. Considering that he still goes free and is even rewarded (and awarded) despite being a rapist piece of shit, viewing and reviewing his movies is conflicting. Especially when they involve sleazy men trying to take advantage of mentally ill women. But, like, sexy mentally ill women. So that makes it ok, apparently…
Back to civilization after winter break, we dive into the magical and stylish world of Mario Bava with Planet of the Vampires (pronounced vampyres, like Andrew’s documentary in the Buffy episode “Storyteller“. At least in our minds).
Argos, a spaceship filled with beautiful people in fabulous leather outfits, approaches an unexplored planet together with its sister ship Galliott. Both ships are sucked into the planet’s atmosphere and go in for a rough landing, and then the crew members try to kill each other once they wake up from the crash.
A knock on the head is enough to bring them back to themselves, and the Argonauts go out onto the new planet to see if they can find and rescue the crew of the Galliott. However, strange things start to happen – voices are heard, dead and living bodies both disappear, and massive skeletons are discovered. What is going on?
Bava always hits the spot for us, although we have never seen this particular movie before. The costumes are amazing, the concept is great (and clearly an influence on later works in the genre), the sets are awesome and there are some very cool shots and visual effects.
The Man with No Name (Eastwood), a.k.a. Manco or Monco (so… The Man with Potentially Several Names then..?) is now a professional bounty killer, roaming the wild west looking for bad guys to kill. For money, obviously. He’s not a complete psycho. He is not alone in this noble pursuit though – The Man in Black (van Cleef), a.k.a. Colonel Douglas Mortimer is a formidable rival.
Notorious criminal El Indio (Volontè) escapes from jail and reunites with his followers whom he preaches to about carpenters from a pulpit… Seems like an oddly familiar pastime. Manco/Monco/TMWPSN and Mortimer alpha off and then join forces to stop El Indio’s evil bank robbing plans.
The Man with No Name goes undercover in the gang, and then gets into hot water – quite literally as they ride to Agua Caliente, the unfriendliest town in the west. But who will outwit whom? What is the significance of El Indio’s pocketwatch and his flashbacks? And who will eventually Über-Alpha the other Alphas and become the one Alpha to rule them all?
The sequel to A Fistful of Dollars, later followed by The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), For a Few Dollars More has everything you could possibly want in a western. Strong, silent men, lots of pregnant pauses and tense silences, a fantastic soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, saloons with easily distracted piano players (is there a union rule that they all have to stop every time a new person enters the room?), hat shooting duels, and lots of violence and horses. What’s not to love?