A Movie A Day #331: The Soldier (1982, directed by James Glickenhaus)


The Soldier is really only remembered for one scene.  The Soldier (Ken Wahl) is being chased, on skis, across the Austrian Alps by two KGB agents, who are also on skis.  The Soldier is in Austria to track down a KGB agent named Dracha (Klaus Kinski, who only has a few minutes of screen time and who is rumored to have turned down a role in Raiders of the Lost Ark so he could appear in this movie).  The Russians want the Soldier dead because they’re evil commies.  While being chased, the Soldier goes over a ski slope and, while in the air, executes a perfect 360° turn while firing a machine gun at the men behind him.  It’s pretty fucking cool.

The Soldier, who name is never revealed, works for the CIA.  He leads a team of special agents.  None of them get a name either, though one of them is played by the great Steve James.  When a shipment of Plutonium is hijacked so that it can be used it to contaminate half of the world’s supply of oil, The Soldier is assigned to figure out who is behind it.  Because terrorists are demanding that Israel withdraw from the West Bank, Mossad assigns an agent (Alberta Watson) to help out The Soldier.  She gets a name, Susan Goodman.  She sleeps with The Soldier because, she puts it, the world is about to end anyway.

The Soldier was obviously meant to be an American James Bond but Ken Wahl did not really have the screen charisma necessary to launch a franchise.  He is convincing in the action scenes but when he has to deliver his lines, he is as stiff as a board.  Fortunately, the majority of the movie is made up of action scenes.  From the minute this briskly paced movie starts, people are either getting shot or blown up.  Imagine a James Bond film where, instead of tricking the bad guys into explaining their plan, Bond just shot anyone who looked at him funny.  That’s The Soldier, a film that is mindless but entertaining.

Ken Wahl may have been stiff and Klaus Kinski may have been wasted but there are still some interesting faces in the cast.  Keep an eye out for William Prince as the President, Ron Harper as the director of the CIA, Zeljko Ivanek as a bombmaker, Jeffrey Jones as the assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense, and George Straight performing in a redneck bar.  Best of all, one of the Soldier’s men is played by Steve James, who will be recognized by any Cannon Films aficionado.

Surprisingly, The Solider is not a Cannon film.  It certainly feels like one.

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20 Horror Icons Who Were Never Nominated For An Oscar


Though they’ve given some of the best, iconic, and award-worthy performances in horror history, the actors and actresses below have never been nominated for an Oscar.

Scarlet Diva

  1. Asia Argento

Perhaps because of charges of nepotism, people are quick to overlook just how good Asia Argento was in those films she made with Dario Argento.  Her work in Trauma especially deserves to be reevaluated.  Outside of her work with Dario, Asia gave great, self-directed performances in Scarlet Diva and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things.

2. Jamie Lee Curtis

“Prom Night!  Everything is all right!”  Did you know that Jamie Lee Curtis received a Genie Nomination for her performance in Prom Night?  That could be because, in 1980, there weren’t that many movies being produced in Canada but still, Jamie was pretty good in that film.  And, of course, there’s a little film called Halloween

3. Peter Cushing

The beloved Hammer horror veteran did wonderful work as both Frankenstein and Van Helsing.  Personally, I love his odd cameo in Shock Waves.

4. Robert Englund

One, two, Freddy’s coming for you…

5. Lance Henriksen

One of the great character actors, Lance Henriksen gave one of the best vampire performances of all time in Kathryn Bigelow’s Near Dark.

David Hess, R.I.P.

6. David Hess

In just two films — Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left and Ruggero Deodato’s The House On The Edge of the Park — Hess defined screen evil.  If nothing else, he deserved an Oscar for composing The Road Leads To Nowhere.

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7. Boris Karloff

As our own Gary Loggins will tell you, it’s a crime that Boris Karloff never received an Oscar nomination.  He may be best remembered for Frankenstein but, for me, Karloff’s best performance was in Targets.

8. Camille Keaton

Yes, Camille Keaton did deserve a Best Actress nomination for I Spit On Your Grave.

Kinski and Butterfly

9. Klaus Kinski

The notorious and talented Klaus Kinski was never nominated for an Oscar.  Perhaps the Academy was scared of what he would do if he won.  But, that said, Kinski gave some of the best performances of all time, in films for everyone from Jess Franco to Werner Herzog.

Christopher Lee Is Dracula

10. Christopher Lee

That the amazing Christopher Lee was never nominated is a shock.  Though he will always be Dracula, Lee gave wonderful performances in films of all genres.  Lee always cited the little-seen Jinnah as being his best performance.

 

11. Bela Lugosi

The original Dracula, Lugosi never escaped typecasting.  Believe it or not, one of his finest performances was in one of the worst (if most enjoyable) films of all time, Ed Wood’s Bride of the Monster.

12. Catriona MacColl

This English actress gave three excellent performances in each chapter of Lucio Fulci’s Beyond Trilogy, with her performance in The House By The Cemetery elevating the entire film.

13. Daria Nicolodi

This Italian actress served as a muse to two of the best directors around, Dario Argento and Mario Bava.  Her award-worthy performances include Deep Red and, especially, Shock.

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14. Bill Paxton

This great Texas actor gave award-worthy performances in everything from Near Dark to Aliens to Frailty.  RIP.

15. Donald Pleasence 

Dr. Loomis!  As good as he was in Halloween, Pleasence also gave excellent performances in Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac and a nightmarish Australian film called Wake in Fright.

Roger Corman and Vincent Price

16. Vincent Price

The great Vincent Price never seems to get the respect that he deserves.  He may have overacted at times but nobody went overboard with as much style as Vincent Price.  His most award-worthy performance?  The Witchfinder General.

17. Giovanni Lombardo Radice

The greatest of all the Italian horror stars, Radice is still active, gracious, and beloved by his many fans.  Quentin Tarantino is a self-described fan so it’s time for Tarantino to write him a great role.

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18. Michael Rooker

To many people, this great character actor will always be Henry.

19. Joe Spinell

This character actor will always be remembered for playing the lead role in the original Maniac but he also appeared in some of the most acclaimed films of all time.  Over the course of a relatively short career, Spinell appeared in everything from The Godfather to Taxi Driver to Rocky to Starcrash.  He was the American Klaus Kinski,

20. Barbara Steele

Barbara Steele has worked with everyone from Mario Bava to Jonathan Demme to David Cronenberg to Federico Fellini.  Among her many excellent performances, her work in Black Sunday and Caged Heat stands out as particularly memorable.

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The Dollars Trilogy Pt 2: FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (United Artists 1965)


cracked rear viewer

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After the huge international success of his A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS , Sergio Leone was red hot. Another Spaghetti Western was hastily written by Leone and Luciano Vincenzoni (and an uncredited assist from Sergio Donati), but FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE is pure Leone, from the visual style to the bits of humor interspersed between the violence. Clint Eastwood returned as The Man With No Name, paired this time with veteran Western heavy Lee Van Cleef as the beady-eyed Colonel Mortimer.

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Eastwood’s character (briefly referred to as ‘Manco”) is a fast-drawing bounty hunter. He’s interested in the $10,000 reward for escaped killer/outlaw Indio. Mortimer is also interested in Indio, but has another motive: a young Indio raped his sister, resulting in her suicide during the act. The two meet up in El Paso, where Indio plans to rob the bank’s estimated one million dollars, kept in a secret cabinet. Manco and Mortimer engage in pissing contest…

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Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #14: Decision Before Dawn (dir by Anatole Litvak)


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So, I’m currently in the process of cleaning out my DVR by watching the 40 films that I recorded from March to June of this year.  Yesterday, I watched the 14th film on my DVR, the 1951 film Decision Before Dawn.  

Decision Before Dawn aired on April 9th on FXM and I specifically recorded it because it was nominated for best picture.  It only received one other nomination (for editing) and it’s one of those nominees that often seems to be dismissed by Oscar historians.  Whenever Decision Before Dawn is mentioned, it’s usually because it’s being unfavorably compared to the other nominees: A Place In The Sun, A Streetcar Named Desire, and An American In Paris.  I went into Decision Before Dawn with very low expectations but you know what?

Decision Before Dawn is not a bad film.  In fact, I would even go as far as to say that it’s actually a damn good film.  If you’re into war films — and, admittedly, I am not — you will love Decision Before Dawn.  If, like me, you’re a history nerd, you’ll be fascinated by the fact that, since this film was shot on location, Decision Before Dawn offers a chance to see what Europe looked like in the years immediately following the destruction of World War II.

As I mentioned, I’m not really into war movies but fortunately, Decision Before Dawn takes place during World War II.  World War II is one of the few wars where there’s no real ambiguity about whether or not the war needed to be fought.  When it comes to picking a villain that everyone can hate, Adolf Hitler and his followers are petty much the perfect villains to go with.

In Decision Before Dawn, Oskar Werner plays Karl Maurer, a German soldier who deserts after his best friend is executed for insubordination.  Though Karl loves his home country, he hates the Nazis who have taken it over.  Karl surrenders to the Americans and volunteers to return to Germany to act as a spy.  Karl finds himself in a strange situation.  Though he’s fighting against the Nazis, he is also mistrusted by the Allies.  He is literally a man without a country.

When word comes down that a German general is willing to surrender, Karl and another German soldier-turned-spy, the greedy and cowardly Sgt. Barth (Hans Christian Bleth), are sent into Germany to both find out if the information is true and to find out where another division of German soldiers is located.  Accompanying the two Germans is a bitter American, Lt. Dick Rennick (Richard Basehart).  Rennick doesn’t trust either of the Germans.

While Rennick and Barth track down the surrendering General, Karl is sent to track down the other division.  Along the way, Karl visits many bombed out German towns and meets Germans of every political persuasion.  Some of them still vainly cling to hope for victory over the Allies but the majority of them are like Hilde (Hildegard Knef), a young war widow who just desperately wants the fighting to end.  Thanks to the deeply empathetic performances of Werner and Knef, the scenes between Hilde and Karl elevate the entire film.  In those scenes, Decision Before Dawn becomes more than just a war film.  It becomes a portrait of men and women trapped by circumstances that they cannot control.

Decision Before Dawn is an exciting and well-acted thriller, one that starts slow but then builds up to a truly thrilling conclusion.  Anatole Litvak directs the film almost as if it were a film noir, filling the entire screen with menacing shadows and moody set pieces.  Decision Before Dawn is a war film that does not celebrate war but instead mourns the evil that men do and argues that sometimes the most patriotic thing that one can do is defy his or her government.  It may be one of the more obscure best picture nominees but it’s still one that deserves to be rediscovered.

By the way, if you do watch Decision Before Dawn, be sure to keep an eye out for Klaus Kinski.  He only appears for a minute or two and he’s not even credited but you’ll recognize him as soon as you see him.  The eyes give him away as soon as he shows up.

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6 Trailers For A Sunday


Hi!  I apologize for being a day late with this week’s edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers.  In the future, I may just start regularly posting these on Sunday morning as opposed to Saturday.  But that’s something that can be decided in the future.  For the present, the trailers are the only thing that matters…

1) Witchboard (1986)

This trailer is short but effective.  The guy with the beard scares me every time.

2) Jennifer (1978)

Guess which earlier movie inspired this one?

3) Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)

When you’ve got a named like Dr. Terror, you might as well get a house of horrors.

4) The Hand (1981)

Continuing on a theme that was introduced in the previous trailer, this film is apparently about a disembodied hand creating mayhem.  It was directed by Oliver Stone who later gave the world Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps.

5) Death Smiles At Murder (1973)

This film is from the infamous Joe D’Amato and apparently, it features a cameo from Klaus Kinski.  That’s how you know it’s good.  Plus, I love the title.

6) Evil Toons (1990)

Wow, this looks terrible, doesn’t it?  Still, I have to include it because it’s just such a purely grindhouse trailer, featuring everything from a gimmick to a somewhat reputable actor who obviously was having trouble paying his rent back in 1990.

The Horror, The Horror — 6 More Trailers


It’s time for the latest installment of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation trailers and, continuing with October’s theme, they are once again all horror trailers.  This week, I set out to prove that Argento’s a master and everything’s scarier in German.  Let’s begin:

1) Friday the 13th (1980)

There’s no way I could possibly get through October without including at least one Friday the 13th trailer.  I went with this one in order to specifically prove that everything’s scarier in German.

2) Paganini Horror (1989)

The trailer for this Italian horror film is in German as well and I have to be honest that, despite being a fourth German, I speak the language like not at all.  Then again, considering that this is one of Luigi Cozzi’s films, it’s probably for the best that I can’t understand the trailer.  All I know is that the killer’s mask is creepy and who doesn’t love Venice?  Seriously, I went there the summer after I graduated high school and there’s no other place I’d more want to be stalked by Klaus Kinski.  One more piece of trivia (and don’t quote me on this), I think that Cozzi may have attempted to sell this film as a part of Dario Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy.

3) Suspiria (1977)

Speaking of Dario Argento’s Three Mothers trilogy, here’s the U.S. trailer for the film that started it all, Suspiria.  While you can probably guess that Suspiria is one of my favorite horror films, it’s also one of my favorite ballet movies as well.  In fact, the ballet aspect of Suspiria is largely responsible for me discovering my love of Italian horror because, if not for the fact that it took place at a cursed dance academy, I doubt I would have paid as much attention to the movie the first time I saw it.

4) Inferno (1980)

While Suspiria is definitely more fun, I still think that the second part of the trilogy — Inferno — is a better horror film.  Seriously, the underwater sequence at the start of this film still freaks me out.

5) Mother of Tears (2007)

Twenty-seven years after Inferno, Argento finally concluded the trilogy with Mother of Tears.  A lot of horror fans practically foam at the mouth going on and on about how much they hated this film.  I happened to have enjoyed it.  So there.

6) Dawn of The Dead (1978)

Continuing on the Argento theme, here’s a classic trailer for a classic film.  George Romero may have directed the American version of Dawn of the Dead but the European version (known as Zombi) was put together by Argento and guess which one is superior?  Anyway, this trailer is for the Romero version:

Poll: Tell Lisa Marie What To Watch Next Sunday


So, guess what I did earlier today?  That’s right — I put on a blindfold, a stumbled over to my ever-growing DVD, Blu-ray. and even VHS collection and I randomly selected 12 films!

Why did I do this?

I did it so you, the beloved readers of Through the Shattered Lens, could once again have a chance to tell me what to do.  At the end of this post, you’ll find a poll.  Hopefully, between now and next Sunday (that’s August 21st), a few of you will take the time to vote for which of these 12 films I should watch and review.  I will then watch the winner on Sunday and post my review on Monday night.  In short, I’m putting the power to dominate in your hands.  Just remember: with great power comes great … well, you know how it goes.

Here are the 12 films that I randomly selected this afternoon:

Abduction From 1975, this soft-core grindhouse film is based on the real-life abduction of Patty Hearst and was made while Hearst was still missing.  Supposedly, the FBI ended up investigating director Joseph Zito to make sure he wasn’t involved in the actual kidnapping.

Aguirre, The Wrath of God From director Werner Herzog and star Klaus Kinski comes this story about a Spanish conquistador who fights a losing battle against the Amazon.

Black Caesar In one of the most succesful of the 70s blaxploitation films, Fred Williamson takes over the Harlem drug trade and battles the mafia.

Don’t Look Now Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are a married couple who attempt to deal with the death of their daughter by going to Venice, Italy.  Christie quickly falls in with two blind psychics while Sutherland pursues a ghostly figure in a red raincoat through Venice.  Directed by Nicolas Roeg.

The Lion In Winter From 1968, this best picture nominee stars Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn as King Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Taking place on Christmas Eve, Henry and Eleanor debate which one of their useless sons will take over a king of England.  This film is also the feature debut of both Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton.

Logan’s Run — From 1976, this sci-fi film features Michael York and Jenny Agutter as two future hedonists seeking Sanctuary and instead finding Peter Ustinov and a bunch of cats.  Filmed in my hometown of Dallas.

Lost Highway — From director David Lynch comes this 1997 film about … well, who knows for sure what it’s about?  Bill Pullman may or may not have killed Patricia Arquette and he may or may not end up changing into Balthazar Getty.

Mystic River — From director Clint Eastwood comes this film about murder, guilt, redemption, and suspicion in working-class Boston.  Starring Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, and Tim Robbins.

Naked Massacre — From 1976, this stark film is something a grindhouse art film.  It takes the true life story of Chicago mass murderer Richard Speck and transfers the action to Belfast.  Also known as Born for Hell.

Night of the Creeps — From 1986, this film features alien slugs that turn an entire college campus into a breeding ground for frat boy zombies.  Tom Atkins gets to deliver the classic line: “Well don’t go out there…”

PetuliaConsidered by many to be one of the best American films ever made and one of the definitive films of the 60s, Petulia tells the story of a divorced doctor (George C. Scott) who enters into an odd relationship with Julie Christie.  Directed by Richard Lester, this film also stars Joseph Cotten, Richard Chamberlain, and the Grateful Dead.

What Have You Done To Solange? — From 1975, What Have You Done To Solange is a classic giallo that  features dream-like murders, disturbing subtext, and one of the best musical scores of all time.

So, there’s your 12 films.  Vote once, vote often, have fun, and I await your decision.

Voting will be open until Sunday, August 21st.