Tuesday, February 10, 2015

HANGING BY A THREAD (1979)

There is absolutely no artistic reason that this film should be 190 minutes long.  The entire story is: a group of dorks who call themselves the Uptown Club decide to go to the top of a mountain for a picnic.  On the way up, the cable car is struck by lightning and disabled.  For the rest of the movie these nerds cry and bitch and have flashbacks...mostly melodramatic stuff concerning other members of the Uptown Club...while one single helicopter tries over and over and over to save them.  Booorrring!  It's all painfully slow with no pay off.

For some reason when I went into this film I was thinking the incident would take place on a Gondola lift in a urban area.  Car perilously hanging as crowds of people ooooohhhh and awwwwww.  But no, HANGING BY A THREAD is about a basic as it can be.  The lightning strikes during the daytime and then suddenly it's nighttime.  That means all of the "in danger" scenes take place with a black background.  How exciting.  Also the helicopter pilot is nonstop bitching about the wind, but every time we see a flag it's hanging limp.  Same goes with people standing outside...their hair isn't even moving!  The filmmakers tried to pad the running time (I guess so it can be a two-night event) with a story about gangster hit men trying to kill one of the passengers, but it's beyond lame.

I had positive hopes for HBAT, but in the end I was bored bored bored. Low budget, stiff acting, lifeless script, pathetic photography, TV show-level sets, many many shots of people making facial expressions ad nauseam, unlikeable characters, super weak ending.  Unless you're a glutton for punishment or a hardcore fan of some of these actors, I say skip it with a vengeance.  I wish I had.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

AROUND THE WORLD UNDER THE SEA (1966)

In order to help protect people from future earthquakes, a crew of scientists have been given the task to circumnavigate the Earth underwater and plant 50 sensors at predetermined locations.  Interesting idea for a film.  I think I'll watch it!  Two hours later:  "...zzzzzzzzz!  Uggh, ohh, hey...did I fall asleep?"  I wish it had gone this way (or I even had somebody to talk to!), but no I stayed awake through the entire thing and it was rough.  The rescue scene at the beginning was interesting, but after that things just got lamer and lamer.  I wasn't expecting the story to be realistic but ATWUTS is completely bonkers.  At one point they're talking about how the water outside near these hydrothermal vents is 390 degrees.  There's some trouble planting the sensor, so what does Lloyd Bridges do?  He throws on his normal scuba gear (remember we're at the bottom of the ocean) and plants the damn thing himself!!!  Afterwards he simply says "That was the hottest I've ever been in my life!"  No shit.  There are many moments like this.

I'm sure ATWUTS was geared towards kids (and I'm not the biggest fan of older kids movies), but I was at least hoping for some exciting adventure.  No.  All of the underwater locations all over the world looked exactly the same, there was absolutely no feeling of being in a new location, the submarine set was dark and boring, the underwater miniatures looked fake as hell, pointless side story about some underwater treasure, bad dialogue, plot holes galore, topless Lloyd Bridges.

I'm sure people who saw this as an impressionable child still have fond memories of ATWUTS, but as an adult and a first time viewer I was bored senseless.  Skip it was a vengeance.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NEW YEAR'S EVIL (1980)

Middle of the road early 80's slasher that has a slow start, interesting middle and then lame ending.  The story is about a TV show personality who's hosting a New Year's Eve celebration program.  She gets a phone call on air by some guy who calls himself "Evil" saying he's going to kill somebody each hour up until midnight and although he doesn't expressly say it it's implied that he is going to kill her a midnight.  Being a trooper, she plows ahead with the show as the useless cops try to track down the killer.

Low body count, lame off screen murders, piss poor nudity, amusing 80's fashions, interesting detour in the story about a biker gang, horrible music, non-threatening killer, the line: "Sally got rid of her nervous diarrhea.", anti-climatic ending, no unique or memorable characters, nice Los Angeles exterior locations.  Although I didn't dislike it I can't see anybody other than slasher completist and/or lovers of bad movies getting much of a kick out of NEW YEAR'S EVIL.  And with so many better slashers from the same time period out there I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it.