Saturday, December 04, 2010

November Film Highlights

Read more at the blog.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2010) Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Annika Halin. Dir: Daniel Alfredson

While Lisbeth recovers in hospital, Blomkvist tries to uncover the organisation that’s determined to silence her. The final chapter is a conspiracy thriller; lower on incidence but still maintains the same edge-of-the-seat tension. If only Rapace and Nyqvist had more screen time together. A fine end to a fine trilogy.


The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) Grant Williams,Randy Stuart, April Kent, Paul Langton. Dir: Jack Arnold

A man is caught in a strange mist, and begins to shrink. Too melodramatic, it’s not ‘till the second half that it becomes the adventure yarn it should be. Effects are decent, but ostentatious narration will make you cheer for him to be squished .And the ending is unbelievable.


Murder, My Sweet (1944) Dick Powell, Claire Trevor, Anne Shirley, Otto Kruger. Dir: Edward Dmytryk

A botched ransome handover and a missing nightclub singer add up to trouble for Philip Marlow. Unfairly overshadowed by Bogart, Powell is excellent as the cynical PI, and backed by a strong supporting cast. Set the template for many seedy noir thrillers to come, and benefits from sequences of expressionist flair.


The Mark of the Vampire (1935) Lionel Barrymore, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Elizabeth Allan. Dir: Tod Browning.

Vampires are accused of murdering a wealthy man and return for his daughter a year later. One of the silliest and most anti-climatic of early horrors. Lugosi lingers silently while Barrymore chatters endlessly. Sort of fun; the ending is so nonsensical that one expects a Shyamalan remake any day now.


The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971) Vincent Price, Joseph Cotten, Peter Jeffrey, Virginia North. Dir: Robert Fuest

A mad organist plans elaborate deaths for the doctors responsible for his wife death. Deliberately outlandish horror lark which delights in camp flamboyance. Being built around grisly, creative, death sequences causes some pacing issues, but if viewed with tongue in cheek it is more than worth a few good laughs.


Mystery at the Wax Museum (1933) Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell,Frank McHugh. Dir: Michael Curtiz

A new wax museum opens, but the sculptures are too life-like, almost familiar.... Superior to the remakes, but seldom seen. It’s not just fascinating for its early colour and pre-production code dialogue, but also for it’s fine set design, dramatic direction and extremely strong script.


House of Wax (1953) Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Charles Bronson, Carolyn Jones. Dir: Andre De Toth.

Another new wax museum opens, but the sculptures are far too life like, almost familiar... Inferior to the original, in both direction and the script, but generally good fun. The horror is played up and Price is good fun as always as the villain. Was originally 3D, hence the amazing paddle-ball man.


House of Wax (2005) Elisha Cuthbert, Chad Michael Murray, Brian Van Holt, Paris Hilton. Dir: Jaume Collet-Serra.

Beautiful youngsters get stranded near a ghost town with a sinister wax museum. It’s as if they wanted to remake Texas Chainsaw but were forced to do this instead. They clearly didn’t understand what made the originals work and made a bland, clichéd, rubbish teen slasher instead. It’s boring too.