Jim Thompson 'A Swell-Looking Babe' (1954) ***1/2

My fifth Jim Thompson book and the fourth one I read after seeing the film version first. This one was better than its film version, HIT ME, which changed a lot of elements, much like THE GETAWAY (both versions). It's quite bleak, in typical Thompson style. Looking forward to reading 'After Dark, My Sweet', 'A Hell Of A Woman' and 'The Kill-Off', so I can then see all the film versions of all those novels.


Night Of The Creeps (1986) ****

I forgot how great this one is. It really has it all - aliens, killer slugs, zombies, axe murder, shotguns, a flame thrower, hot babes, dorks, frat boys, Tom Atkins, awesome one liners, nudity, 80s fashion, a B&W 50s intro, Tom Atkins, quasi gay male leads, an ugly dorky male lead who gets the hot sorority girl, a handicapped best friend, a stereotypical Asian man, a token black police officer, characters named after horror/sci-fi directors (Romero, Carpenter Hooper, Cameron, Cronenberg, Landis, Raimi, Miner), sweet makeup from Berger and Kurtzman, killer practical f/x and gore, more than one classic theatrical poster, Dick Miller, Tom Atkins.



Stereo (1969) **

I had seen this before and didn't remember much about it. Now I remember why that was. Zzz...

Scanners (1981) ***1/2

I like this film a lot, but I feel as if I'm forgiving of aspects that I would find obnoxious if it weren't a Cronenberg film. I would certainly rank many (re: most) of his films above it, but there is a definite charm, iconography and staying power about it, despite some atrocious wooden, soap operatic acting from its lead Stephen Lack ("lacking", for sure), poor pacing and no true surprises. And, gorehound I may be, I actually find the phone booth scene the most thrilling, ingenious and ahead-of-its-time aspect of the whole film.

SCANNERS has more than a few things in common with De Palma's THE FURY (which was released 3 years earlier), including a head explosion (and THE FURY's is more climatic and better, if you ask me) and both of them are flawed films, but I like THE FURY a bit better overall. All that said, this one is fun, is definitely "Cronenbergian" and it features a typically excellent score from Howard Shore and great special f/x from Dick Smith (THE EXORCIST) and Chris Walas (THE FLY).

Here's to very much hoping that Criterion does release THE BROOD (a better film) as rumored and that they include Cronenberg's CRIMES OF THE FUTURE in 1080p (it's only been released in 480p by Blue Underground on their DVD & BD releases of FAST COMPANY, as they did on this Blu-ray release with STEREO.

Rock 'N' Roll High School (1979) ***


Judex (1963) ****1/2 [Criterion Double Feature Pt. 1]

This one was simply great. It's like Dick Tracy/early 20th century crime serials, silent cinema, DANGER: DIABOLIK and 60s French New Wave all rolled into one, bolstered by a fantastic Maurice Jarre score and excellent B&W cinematography and f/x. And now I'm dying to see the original 1916 silent serial by Louis Feuillade, who also directed the serials LES VAMPIRES and FANTÔMAS, both of which I am extremely interested in visiting someday as well.


The Exterminator (1980) **1/2

A decent revenge film with a few great gore scenes, but if only the film were as good as the poster.


West Side Story (1961) ****1/2

The first time I watched WSS, I gave it ****. I was surprised that I liked it that much. I was going to give the film the same rating this round and then changed my mind because, despite some shortcomings, it's pretty astounding. 

The technical achievements are overwhelming - the choreography, the music/score, the lighting/colors, the mind-blowing direction/cinematography. It features one of the best opening and closing credits to any film I've ever seen (thanks to Saul Bass). 

It's also incredibly dark for its time and for a musical, in general. It's not "feel good" at all. And it's unique while still being essentially a classic 'Romeo & Juliet' tale.

A Hard Day's Night (1964) ***1/2 [CCN29]

Giovannona Long-Thigh (1973) ***1/2 [Edwige Fenech Sexy Comedy Double Feature Pt. 2]

Ubalda, All Naked And Warm (1972) ***1/2 [Edwige Fenech Sexy Comedy Double Feature Pt. 1]