For the last couple of months, I’ve been watching old horror and sci-fi movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s. I haven’t watched any of these movies before, and in some cases, never heard of them until recently.
The quality of the films varies from studio to studio, but there’s still something about these old movies that I can’t seem to get enough of.
This past weekend I saw the 1955 film “Revenge of the Creature.” The film is a sequel to the classic “Creature from the Black Lagoon” which came out one year earlier. Which makes sense, because the sequel takes places roughly a year after the events of the first film. “Revenge of the Creature” was directed by Jack Arnold, and starred John Agar as Prof. Clete Ferguson, and Lori Nelson as Helen Dobson. “Revenge of the Creature” is also notable for being Clint Eastwood’s film debut.
This time out, a team of scientists led by Prof. Clete Ferguson make the trip down to the Amazon in the hopes of finding a living, breathing Gill Man. Once there, the team finds that the Creature from the first movie is still very much alive. He’s captured and taken back to the States to be put on display in a Florida aquarium. During the trip, Helen writes a journal about the Gill-man, and she and Ferguson begin to fall in love.
Seeing the two love birds together doesn’t please their colleague Joe Hayes (John Bromfield), who also has a thing for Helen. You know who else has a thing for Helen? the Gill-man. Can’t say I blame Joe or Gilly, Lori Nelson was quite beautiful. Ultimately, the Gill-man escapes from his tank, killing Joe, and flees to the open water. However, the Gill-man is unable to stop thinking about Helen, so he begins to stalk her and Clete.
Things escalate one night when the Gill-man adducts Helen from a seaside restaurant where the two are at a party. Clete valiantly gives chase into the water, but the Gill-man escapes with his captive. Clete joins the police and an army of volunteers in hunting down the Gill-man in hopes of finding Helen before its too late.
“Creature from the Black Lagoon” is such an iconic monster movie, that I didn’t think “Revenge of the Creature” had a chance to be any good. But I have to say I really enjoyed Revenge. The sequel follows the stuff that worked well in the first movie, while also building its on world. The pace in Revenge is much faster than in the previous film. There’s more action, and some of the acting is better here than in the original.
Another interesting thing in this movie is that the monster a lot more aggressive and ferocious than before. He got more to do in this film, and he leaves quite the body count as he rampages through Florida. And some of his scenes (like kidnapping Helen) are down right terrifying. The underwater footage is also rather good in Revenge. It looks clearer then before, and you get a better sense of motion for the Gill-man and the other actors.
But there’s also the familiarity of the first film. Both movies open in the Amazon, and the sequel has a carbon copy of the famous swimming scene. This time though, John Agar treading water with Lori Nelson eliminates the sexual subtext of the first film. Guess the Gill-man is not into threesomes, or more likely, he was added to the scene because the studio got heat the first time.
I thought the cast was pretty good throughout, but the standout for me was Lori Nelson. She’s a knockout, and her swimming was cool and all. But to me, her reactions to seeing the Gill-man were phenomenal. Nelson acted like she really was dealing with a monster, and the way she fought back in the kidnapping scene was terrific.
As a sequel, “Revenge of the Creature” is a fun, loud, action packed ride, and a better B movie than most. It delivered on everything I liked in the first movie, and much more. The creature is scarier, and the girl is hotter.
While the original Gill-man movie will always be the one considered a classic, don’t discount how good “Revenge of the Creature” is.
Over the last couple of weeks, the wifey and I decided to cancel our DirecTV service. It got too expensive, and we are using more streaming services than before. However, the wifey didn’t want to cut the cord completely, so we bundled with Charter Spectrum. The switch has nearly tripled the number of channels I have, but it’s costing me at least $80 less a month, including internet.
I’m still trying to learn where all the channels are. But last weekend when I couldn’t sleep, I landed upon a 1939 movie called “Son of Frankenstein.” I thought I had seen most of the Universal monster movies, but somehow this one had escaped me. But I wasn’t about to miss a Frankenstein movie starring Boris Karloff as the Monster, Basil Rathbone as Baron Wolf von Frankenstein, and Bela Lugosi as Ygor.
In the film, several years have passed since the events of the first film, and we are introduced to Baron Wolf Von Frankenstein (Basil Rathbone), the son of Henry Frankenstein, as he prepares to move his family into his father’s castle. I guess this is the castle that was destroyed at the end of a previous movie, but I’m not positive.
Anyway, the local residents aren’t too pleased with their new neighbors, and become predictably hostile. To the townsfolk, the Frankenstein name us a curse upon the village. The only friendly face in the crown is the local chief of police Inspector Krogh (Lionel Atwill). Many find this surprising, since Krogh was a victim of the Monster as a child when, he claims, the beast ripped off his arm. This is something that will play a role later in the film.
From there Wolf runs into Ygor, a creepy blacksmith who mysteriously survived his own hanging. ygor was convicted of grave-robbing, and of course, it wasn’t any old grave he robbed. Later when Wolf visits the family crypt, he discovers the Monster’s body and decides to revive him in an effort to prove his father’s right, and to restore honor to the Frankenstein name. You can probably guess how this decision played out from here.
I can’t say “Son of Frankenstein” is on a par with any of the other Frankenstein movies out there. But I also can’t deny that this was one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen from that era. It all comes down to Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi who give some epic performances. Karloff is as scary and sympathetic as ever, and Lugosi is a scene stealer despite being hidden under layers of hair and make-up. He was so good, I didn’t even realize it was Lugosi because I had missed the opening credits.
The grand finale of “Son of Frankenstein” was more action packed than I expected. There’s even a scene where Frankenstein rips off Inspector Krogh’s fake arm, and starts beating him with it. But the old inspector has another arm, and is able to shoot the monster. He doesn’t kill him, but he stuns Frankenstein long enough so that Basil Rathbone can impersonate Tarzan by swinging across the laboratory, and kicking the monster into the ooze below.
Speaking of Basil Rathbone, it was really strange seeing him play kind of good guy, only because I know him best as a bad guy in classic movies. However, in “Son of Frankenstein,” Rathbone really shows his acting range. Towards the end of the film he goes from meek victim, to homicidal maniac, to action hero. This might be my favorite performance by Basil Rathbone.
“Son of Frankenstein” may not the best of the classic Universal monster movies, but it’s certainly not the worst. This movie has some great scenes filled with suspense, horror, and even a little humor. The acting is easily the best part of the film, and you’ll never go wrong with Karloff and Lugosi in the same movie. All in all, I’m glad I couldn’t sleep that night, and I discovered this great monster mash.
Whenever I write one of these posts, I often mention how I don’t go out of my way to see a romantic comedy at the nearest theater. That may be true now, but looking back at my movie going history, there was a time I definitely used to go out of my way to see the latest rom-com. One of these movies was 2004’s “13 Going on 30.”
Or as I like to call it, that time the Hulk teamed-up with Elektra to travel back in time to set things right.
If you’re too young or don’t remember the movie, “13 Going on 30” was directed by Gary Winick. starred Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis, and Kathy Baker. I could be wrong, but I think this was Jennifer Garner’s first movie as the lead.
Anyway, “13 Going on 30” starts in 1987 where we meet Jenna (Christa B. Allen), an average, self-doubting teen girl whose best friend is a boy named Matt (Sean Marquette). Jenna often wishes her best friends were the Six Chicks, a band made up of prettiest and most popular girls in school. The group is led by Lucy (Alexandra Kyle).
After the Six Chicks humiliate Jenna at her 13th birthday party, Jenna wishes that she were 30; she chooses that age after reading a magazine article that talked about being “thirty, flirty and thriving.” She wakes up the next morning to find herself fast-forwarded 17 years to 2004, where she’s transformed into Jennifer Garner.
In this world Jenna is a successful 30-year-old editor of Poise magazine, and a total snob. She’s even best friends with her former rival Lucy (Judy Greer), who also works with her. Jenna has no memory of the intervening 17 years, and her friends and co-workers wonder why all of a sudden Jenna is acting like a teenager.
Still. it looks like all of Jenna’s dreams have finally come true. But even with everything she ever wanted at her command, all Jenna can think of is tracking down her old friend Matt (Mark Ruffalo). Jenna wants to find out why they’re no longer friends, but she may not like the answers.
When “13 Going on 30” came out in April 2004, I was working at a video store called Video to Go. It was a great place to work at because of the free movies. But more importantly I made a lot of friends there. Two of them even became regulars at our Tuesday Movie Night. There was Barbara, also known as Babs, and Ali, who I have mentioned before.
However, “13 Going on 30” was not a Tuesday movie. This was rare for us, and it was like cheating on our regula night. But for reasons I can’t remember, the three of us chose to go to the late show on a Wednesday night. We decided on the late show because Babs and I had to close that night, so the plan was to go straight from work and meet Ali there. Since I drove to the movies, Babs was kind enough to buy us popcorn and drinks. Ali had gotten us tickets ahead of time because there was a decent crowd for a Wednesday night.
As for the movie itself, I can’t deny that “13 Going for 30” made me laugh. Even though this kind of story has been done before, I really enjoyed the movie. The story was better than I was expecting, and Jennifer Garner was perfect in the role. She was funny, cute, and everything you need for this kind of role. I also liked how she seemed to be having a blast playing a teenager trapped in a 30-year-old’s body.
“13 Going on 30” was a pleasant surprise to say the least, but the best part of the night was hanging out with Babs and Ali. I think this was the only time the three of us went to a movie, and it was just us. I’m surprised we didn’t do this more often, because we did have fun before, during, and after the movie.
Plus going to any movie with Babs was always a riot because she could never figure out twists, or endings. So whenever we saw a movie with her, Ali and I would always wait for the “Here’s where Babs figures it Out” moment. Let’s just say it was always a highlight.
At the end of the day, going to the movies to see “13 Going on 30” turned out to be a great night, and one that I will always remember.
The summer of 1992 was a big one. Summer ’92 saw the presidential race heat up, and Barcelona hosting the Olympic games. This was also the summer Whoopi Goldberg became a nun, where there was no crying in baseball, and when Batman returned to the big screen.
But there’s also a little romantic comedy from this time that always gets forgotten: “Housesitter.”
“Housesitter” was directed by Frank Oz, and starred Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. Martin plays Newton Davis, a Boston architect who has designed his dream house and in the opening credits asks his childhood sweetheart Becky (Dana Delaney) to marry him. She says no, and monthes later the heartbroken Newt tells everything to a waitress named Gwen (Goldie Hawn).
Learning that the house Newton designed is sitting empty in a quaint little New England town, Gwen goes there and introduces herself around town as Newt’s wife. She also moves into the house and furnishes the place, on credit and in Newton’s name. Weeks go by before Newt returns to the town and discover Gwen’s deception. But by then, Gwen has succeeded in making friends of Newt’s parents and his former love, Becky.
However, Newton immediately goes with the flow to get what he wants: a promotion at work, and to win back the love of Dana Delaney’s Becky. Gwen agrees to help him, an in exchange she gets to stay in the house. The two pretend they are married, then stage a phony divorce in front of the entire town. But of course, things don’t go quite as planned.
A movie like this shouldn’t work because both of these characters are lying most of the time. It’s hard to root for characters who are deceiving so many other people deliberately. But watching “Housesitter” in the theater, I got it. Newt and Gwen both want something, and working together might be the only way the each achieve their goals.
But what made the film work, was the great work of Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. The two actors have great chemistry together and their one on one scenes are some of the film’s best. There are some great verbal fights between the two. Martin and Hawn also have one of the funniest scenes with the a reverend Newt’s parents bring by to help with their relationship “troubles.”
Goldie Hawn also delivers with some epic facial expressions throughout the film. Wheter its at the Budapest restaurant, or when she finds her fake parents, or when she tells Becky the story of how her and Newton “met.” Hawn’s meeting Newtons parents for the first time was also pretty epic, and sweet at the same time.
Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are helped by an excellent supporting cast. Dana Delaney, Donald Moffat and Julie Harris as Newt’s parents, and by Richard B. Shull and Laurel Cronin (a homeless couple who are pressed into service as Gwen’s parents), all deliver wonderful performances.
what I also liked about the cast, was that each supporting character had something to do. By the time the film ends, each of them has played a part in some way shape or form in the main plot.
The final reason I enjoy “Housesitter” is because it was shot in my home state. The town scenes were shot in Cohasset and Concord, Massachusetts, two places I’ve been too mutltiple times over the years. Each summer I would go to multiple concerts and shows at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset.
The scenes in downtown Boston were shot near where I would eventually go to art school, including the scenes featuring the Budapest restaurant. The restaurant you see in the film, was an actual restaurant near the Prudential Center area. Although I don’t remember if the restaurant was named the Budapest or not, it was still there while as I going to school. I remember when it was announced it was closing, it was a big story because the restaurant had been around for quite some time.
“Housesitter” is just a sweet and funny movie, with a rather innovative premise. I wish more people would give this movie a shot because it really is a wonderful little comedy. The setting, and the town people, and the performances from Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, all combine to make this one of the few romantic comedies I can honestly say I love.
For people my age and anyone who was young in the 1980’s, “The Breakfast Club” is one of those movies everyone liked because we grew up in that era. Yeah, not for me though. Truth of the matter is I hate the movie, but it wasn’t always like that. But I have a good reason disliking this movie, and it all started my freshman year of college.
Between fall of 1997 and the spring of 1999, I attended school at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater Ma. My major at the time was media communications, with a minor in graphic design.
I was excited to go to school at BSC, but soon discovered the school made it almost impossible for freshmen to get into the classes we needed for our major. During my freshman year, I was only able to take two of the required courses, one of which was a speech class.
The required speech class was three days a week, but with two different professors. On Monday, we met in a large auditorium with one teacher, and on Wednesday and Friday we’d meet in a regular classroom with a different teacher. It was in the regular classroom where my problems with “The Breakfast Club.”
One Friday, we were assigned to watch the movie, and the professor told us to just enjoy it. No need to take notes or anything. Everyone in the class was probably thinking “watch a movie for homework? cool.” So I watched it, and I liked certain parts of it, and I did laugh here and there. But I wouldn’t say it became a favorite of mine or anything. As far as I was concerned, this would be the only time I had to watch “The Breakfast Club,” but boy was I wrong!
The following Wednesday, the professor that had assigned the movie, asked us our initial thoughts about it. Even then I thought it was an odd way for her to phrase the question, but I soon found out why she said “Initial thoughts.” At the end of class, she told us to watch the movie again, but this time focus only on Judd Nelson’s John Bender. Oh, and be sure to take notes this time.
That Friday in class, we discussed the character of Bender, and what we thought of him and his actions. As fas as I was concerned, that should have been the end of my relationship with “The Breakfast Club,” but the professor had other ideas. For the weekend, she told us to watch the movie again and to focus on Molly Ringwald’ss Claire Standish.
The next week, we did it all over again for Emilio Estevez as Andy Clark. And as if that weren’t enough, we rounded things out by watching the movie again, and only for Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian Johnson.
After a couple of weeks, I had watched “The Breakfast Club” a total of five times. That was over twenty years ago now, but even today I cannot bring myself to watch the movie. This is one case where a homework assignment completley ruined a movie for me. Ah well, at least I passed the class.