Allan Quatermain and The Lost City Of Gold (1987, directed by Gary Nelson)


Having previously discovered and escaped King Solomon’s mines, Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) and Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone) are now living in a domestic bliss in Africa.  They’re planning on eventually returning to America so that they can get married but it turns out that Allan has one more quest that he has to complete before he can truly settle down.

When Allan receives information that his long last brother is not only still alive but has also discovered a fabled Lost City of Gold, Allan sets out to discover the city for himself.  Traveling with Jesse and an old friend named Umslopogaas (James Earl Jones!), Allan makes his way across the Sahara, survives a battle with a group of native, and manages to find both the city and his brother!

However, all is not well in the City of Gold.  Queen Nyelptha (Aileen Marson) is on the verge of going to war with Queen Sorais (Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a Elvira, Mistress of the Dark!!).  Manipulating both of the queens is the evil high priest, Agon (Henry Silva!!!!).  To save the City of Gold and his future marriage, Allan will first have to figure out a way to defeat Agon.

Allan Quatermain and the Lost City Of Gold was filmed back-to-back with King Solomon’s Mines.  The two films were released within a year of each other and, while King Solomon’s Mines was a minor box office success, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold was not.  I wasn’t expecting much when I watched the film but, believe it or not, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold is not that bad.  It’s a definite improvement on King Solomon’s Mines.  Richard Chamberlain is more believable as Quatermain in the sequel and he and Sharon Stone share the minimum amount of chemistry to be somewhat believable as a couple in love.  If that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, it’s still an improvement over King Solomon’s Mines, where the two of them often seemed as if they couldn’t stand to be anywhere near each other.  Best of all, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold has Henry Silva in a ridiculous costume and that automatically makes the film worth watching.

Henry Silva, everyone.

Like King Solomon’s Mines, Allan Quatermain and The Lost City of Gold adds a large dose of intentional humor to its adventure story.  Fortunately, the comedy here is better executed than in the previous film.  There’s less mugging on Chamberlain’s part and some of the dialogue is genuinely amusing.

Of course, Allan Quatermain and The Lost City of Gold is not without its flaws.  This is a low-budget Cannon film that often tries too hard to duplicate the success of the Indiana Jones films without ever showing much understanding of what made those films successful in the first place.  Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold can’t hold a candle to the classic adventure films of the past.  But, for a low-budget Cannon film starring Richard Chamberlain as a rugged, jungle explorer, it’s actually a lot of fun.

Plus, did I mention Henry Silva?

King Solomon’s Mines (1985, directed by J. Lee Thompson)


After her archaeologist father disappears while searching for the fabled mines of King Solomon, Jesse Houston (Sharon Stone) hires famed explorer Allan Quartermain (Richard Chamberlain) to help her find him.  After walking around in the jungle and exploring a nearby village, Allan and Jesse discover that her father has been kidnapped by a German military expedition who want to use King Solomon’s treasure to fund their war effort.  Working with the Germans is Allan’s old enemy, Dogati (John Rhys-Davies).  Allan and Jesse find themselves in a race against time to find the mines before the Germans.  Along the way, they steal an airplane, fight German soldiers on a train, and nearly get cooked alive in a giant cauldron.

Because this is a Cannon film and it was made at the height of Indiana Jones’s popularity and it stars John Rhys-Davies and it has a score that sounds like it was written by someone trying too hard to be John Williams, you might be tempted to think that King Solomon’s Mines is a rip-off of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  However, there are some crucial differences between Raiders and King Solomon’s Mines.  For instance, Raiders of the Lost Ark took place during World War II.  King Solomon’s Mines takes place during World War I.  Raiders of the Lost Ark had angels that melted a man’s face.  King Solomon’s Mines has a lava pit that makes you explode if you fall into it.  Raiders of the Lost Ark has a big fight in an airfield while King Solomon’s Mines has a big fight at an airfield …. well, wait, I guess they do have a few things in common.

Probably the biggest difference between Raiders of the Lost Ark and King Solomon’s Mines is that Raiders had Harrison Ford and Karen Allen while King Solomon’s Mines has to make due with Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone.  (If the imdb trivia section is to be believed, Sharon Stone was cast because Menahem Golan mistook her for Kathleen Turner.)  Along with generating zero romantic sparks, neither Chamberlain nor Stone come across as if they’ve ever even seen a jungle, much less explored one.  The only time that the two of them are credible as anything other than actors slumming on Cannon’s dime is when they’re yelling at each other.  There’s also a scene where they’re trying to steal an airplane and Chamberlain tells Stone to “reach between your legs and grab it.”  That was funny, I guess.

Along with trying to be an adventure, King Solomon’s Mines also tries to be a comedy.  As a general rule, Cannon films are great when they’re unintentionally funny but not so much when they actually try to be funny.  The film’s idea of comedy is Richard Chamberlain having to do an impromptu jig while someone shoots at his feet.  Add in a healthy dose of casual racism as Allan and Jesse run into a tribe in Africa who want to cook them in a giant stew pot and you’ve got a film so bad that you’ll hardly believe it could have been produced by the same people who gave us Delta Force, which is, of course, the greatest film ever made.

Golan and Globus had enough confidence in King Solomon’s Mines that they shot a sequel before the first film was even released.  Tomorrow, I will force myself to watch and review Allan Quartermain and The Lost City of Gold.  And, after that, I’ll probably go sit in a corner and think about what I’ve done.

Horror on TV: Thriller 1.8 “The Watcher” (dir by John Brahm)


For tonight’s televised horror, we have another episode of the Boris Karloff-hosted anthology series, Thriller!

In this episode, a religious fanatic in a named Freitag (Martin Gabel) lives in a resort community and targets young people who he believes have failed to live up to his standards.  His latest targets are played by Olive Sturgess and Richard Chamberlain.  This is actually a rather grisly little episode.  With its theme of religious hypocrisy, I can only imagine how people reacted when it was first aired on November 1st, 1960.

Enjoy!

TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts Three and Four (dir by David Lynch) (SPOILERS)


David Lynch as Gordon Cole

It seems appropriate that there should be a picture of David Lynch at the top of this recap.  There’s a lot of good things to be said about the third and fourth “parts” of Twin Peaks but ultimately, these two hours are all about Lynch and his unique vision.

This is especially true of the first 20 minutes of Part 3.  This is Lynch at his best.  Unconcerned with the traditional rules of narrative, Lynch creates an extended nightmare, one that sticks in your head long after the show itself has moved on.

Much as how Eraserhead started in space, with a hideously scarred man pushing and pulling the levers that eventually created that film’s mutant baby, Part 3 opens with Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) falling through darkness, plunging into a purple cloud.  When Cooper lands, it’s in a purple-tinted world that immediately made me think of the final scene in Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond.

Cooper is standing outside a house, looking out over what appears to be a purple ocean.  When Cooper enters the house, he finds a woman.  She is wearing a red dress and her eyes are sewn shut.  The first time I saw this, I assumed that the woman was meant to be Ruth Davenport, mostly because Ruth was found without eyes.  However, Ruth is not listed in the end credits.  For that matter, neither is the eyeless woman.

Cooper asks where they are but the woman cannot speak.  Perhaps she has lost her tongue, as well as her eyes.  Suddenly, someone starts to pound on the door.  The woman holds her finger to her lips, telling Cooper to be silent.

Cooper sees what appears to be a safe on the wall but, when he tries to approach it, the blind woman steps in front of him and pushes him back.  As the pounding continues, the woman leads Cooper to another door and then up a ladder.

And suddenly, Cooper and the woman are standing in outer space.  The house has now become a satellite, hovering in the star-filled sky.  As the pounding continues on the soundtrack, the woman tries to speak but Cooper cannot understand what she’s saying.  Suddenly, the woman pulls down a lever, apparently electrocuting herself before falling off the satellite and disappearing into space.

Suddenly, Cooper sees the face of Major Garland Briggs (Don S. Davis) floating underneath him.  “Blue Rose,” Briggs says.

(In Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, it was suggested that the FBI refers to paranormal cases as being “Blue Rose cases.”)

Cooper reenters the satellite.  He finds himself back in the house.  There is now a second woman and those familiar with the show will recognize her as being played by Phoebe Augustine, the same actress who played Ronette Pulaski in the earlier seasons of the show.  If Augustine playing Ronette here?  It’s hard to say.  Her character is listed as being “American Girl.”  Cooper does not seem to recognize her but, then again, he also hesitated before recognizing Laura Palmer during Part One.  Being in the Black Lodge for 25 years can’t be good for one’s memory.

Cut to Doppelganger Cooper, driving down a South Dakota highway.  At the same time that the real Cooper is once again approaching the safe in the Space House, Doppelganger Cooper is having a seizure while driving.

In the Space House, American Girl/Ronette says, “When you get there, you will already be there.”

The pounding starts again.

“You better hurry,” American Girl/Ronette says, “my mother’s coming.”

Suddenly, Cooper is sucked into the safe, with only his shoes being left behind in the Space House.

In South Dakota, Doppelganger Cooper flips his car, crashing into a mountain.  Doppelganger Cooper survives but suddenly, he starts to throw up.  He puts his hand over his mouth and then sees the red curtains of the Black Lodge appearing before his car.

In an empty house located the Rancho Rosa development in Nevada, a dorky guy named Dougie Jones (Kyle MacLachlan) has just paid a prostitute named Jade (Nafessa Williams).  While Jade takes a shower, Dougie puts on a mustard yellow suit jacket and, judging by how ugly it is, I’m guessing that Dougie must be in real estate.  (Perhaps he works for Rancho Rosa, selling people suburban houses in the middle of the desert.)  Suddenly, Dougie grabs his stomach and collapses to the floor.

What follows is one of the grossest scenes ever as we cut back and forth between Dougie and the Doppelganger vomiting.  Seriously, this was one of the most grotesquely realistic vomiting scenes that I have ever seen.  I averted my eyes and covered my ears!  It was so gross.

At the same time that Dougie vanishes from the house, the red curtains in front of the Doppelganger’s car also vanishes.  But the Doppelganger is too busy throwing up to notice.  Again, I have to admit that I averted my eyes during most of this.  (I also realize that both Dougie and the Doppelganger were throwing up their essences, the stuff that allowed them to pretend to be human.  I don’t care.  The only thing I hate more than vomiting is watching other people vomit.)

Dougie is in the Black Lodge.  MIKE (Al Strobel) doesn’t appear to be too happy to see him.  MIKE explains that someone manufactured Dougie.  I’m assuming that the Doppelganger created Dougie so that, if Cooper ever escaped from the Black Lodge, he would take over Dougie’s existence instead of the Doppelganger’s.  “That’s weird,” Dougie says, as he his hand wastes away.  Then Dougie’s head vanishes, replaced by a black cloud of smoke.

Back at the house, another black cloud comes out of an electrical outlet.  Soon, the cloud forms into Cooper.  Cooper lies on the floor, next to Dougie’s vomit (ewwww!) until Jade yells at him that they have to get out of the house.

Apparently in a state of shock, Cooper silently follows Jade out of the house.  After being locked away in the Black Lodge, it appears that Cooper no longer quite remembers how to be human.  Or maybe he’s not really human at all anymore.  All I know is that he’s acting strange and, as brilliant as Kyle MacLachlan is, I do kind of hope the old Cooper returns at some point soon.

Because Dougie/Cooper doesn’t have his car keys (though he does still have his room key from the Great Northern), Jade gives him a ride into Vegas.  Two gangster types watch as Jade drives off.  One of them has a rifle.  The other has a bomb.  Apparently, they work for someone to whom Dougie’s owes money.  Because Cooper leans down to pick up his room key, the one with the rifle does not spot him in Jade’s car.  The other places the bomb under Dougie’s car, which is still sitting outside of the empty house.

While this happens, a woman — listed in the credits as being “Drugged-Up Mother” and played by Hailey Gates — is shouting “One one nine!  One one nine!” while her son watches on the couch.

In South Dakota, two troopers approach the Doppelganger’s car.  One of them catches whiff of the vomit and collapses to the ground, physically ill.

At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Hawk (Michael Horse), Andy (Harry Goaz), and Lucy (Kimmy Robertson) look through all the evidence that was collected in the Palmer case.  Andy says that he and Lucy can’t find out what’s missing.  “If it’s here,” Hawk replies, “how can it be missing?”

As Hawk recites what the Log Lady told him — that something is missing and that the way he’ll find it has to do with his heritage — Lucy freaks out when she spots an empty box of chocolate bunnies.  Many years ago, Lucy ate the bunny.

“Do chocolate bunnies have something to do with your heritage?” Andy earnest asks.

“IT’S NOT ABOUT BUNNIES!” Hawk snaps.  Then, “Is it about the bunny? …. No, it’s not about the bunny.”

Meanwhile, off in the middle of nowhere, Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn) spray paints the ladders that were delivered to him at the start of Part One.

In Vegas, Jade drops Dougie/Cooper off at a casino.  Dougie/Cooper has been reduced to just repeating back phrases that other people say to him but no one seems to notice.  Still, when Jade tells Dougie/Cooper that he can “go now,” Dougie/Cooper has a flashback to Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) saying the same thing.

The casino, with its combination of glitz and the grotesque, brings out the best in Lynch.  As Dougie/Cooper wanders through the casino — which is populated by typical Lynchian characters — he notices that he can see the red curtains of the Black Lodge floating over certain slot machines.   Cooper pulls the levers, hitting jackpot after jackpot.  As the coins flood out of the machines, Cooper announces, “HELLO!”  Why?  Because he heard another gambler do it.  Dougie/Cooper is learning how to be human again.

When Dougie/Cooper walks away after having won another jackpot, leaving all of his coins on the floor, one old woman considers taking the coins for herself but then glances up at the camera on the ceiling — “and the eye in the sky watches us all,” to quote Casino — and thinks better of it.  Instead, she just asks Cooper to tell her which machines are about to hit.  She calls him Mr. Jackpot, which is kinda sweet.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the FBI is meeting and — oh my God!  It’s Gordon Cole (David Lynch), Albert Rosenfield (Miguel Ferrer), and Tamara Preston (Chrysta Bell).  (Preston will be familiar to anyone who has read Mark Frost’s The Secret History of Twin Peaks.)

They start out discussing a senator who has been accused of murdering his wife.  The senator says that he knows who did it but he can’t reveal the name because of “national security reasons.”  (Since this is taking place in 2014, I’m going to continue the Casino theme and assume that the senator was creepy old Harry Reid.)

Cole is more interested in hearing about the murders of Sam and Tracey in New York City.  It turns out that the cameras caught a picture of that demonic creature in the glass box.

Suddenly, a call comes in.  Cooper has been found and he’s in a South Dakota prison and … oh shit!  That’s not Cooper!  We know that’s the Doppelganger!  Regardless, Cole announces that he, Albert, and Tamara are going to South Dakota.  Albert says he can’t wait to see Mount Rushmore.

“The absurd mystery of the strange forces of existence,” Albert tells Tamara.  “How about a truck load of valium?”

Cut to The Cactus Blossoms, performing at the Roadhouse and announcing that Part Three is over.

Part Four opens with Dougie/Cooper still hitting jackpots and still chanting, “Hello!”  When the old woman who has been following him around hits a jackpot of her own, a small smile comes to Cooper/Dougie’s lips.

A friend of Dougie’s, Bill Shaker (Ethan Suplee), approaches and he and Dougie have a thoroughly superficial conversation.  Dougie/Cooper asks where his home is.  Bill assures him that he lives at Lancelot Court, in a house with a red door.  The house, Bill says, is near Merlin’s Market.  As Cooper/Dougie leaves to get a cab, Bill says, “I hope he’s okay.”

“I don’t think he’s okay,” Bill’s wife, the wonderfully named Candy Shaker (Sara Paxton) says.

Before Dougie/Cooper can leave to find the house with the red door, he is dragged to the office of the vaguely threatening casino manager (David Dastmalchian).  The manager gives Dougie/Cooper his winnings and then asks if he wants anything — like “companionship” — for the night.  “Think of us as your home away from home,” he says.  When Dougie/Cooper repeats that he wants to go home (his real home), the manager arranges for him to ride in a limo.

(It pays to be a winner.)

As the limo drives down Lancelot Court, the driver (Jay Larson) says that it might be hard to spot a red door at night.  However, he then sees the door and oh my God, is it ever red!  Dougie gets out of the limo and seems unsure what to do.  Fortunately, his wife — Janey-E (Naomi Watts) — comes out of the house and starts hitting him.  Apparently, Dougie has been missing for three days.  He even misses his son’s birthday party!  (Perhaps significantly, as everyone stands outside the house, an owl flies overhead.)

Fortunately, once they’re inside the house, Janey-E sees just how much money Dougie/Cooper won at the casino.

“Don’t tell me you hit the jackpot!” Janey-E says.

“Mr. Jackpot,” Dougie/Cooper says, pointing at himself.

“There’s enough here to pay them back!” Janey-E continues as she looks at the money, “This is the most wonderful day of my life!”

“Of my life,” Dougie/Cooper says.

“Yes,” Janey-E replies.

At FBI Headquarters, Cole has a meeting chief of staff Denise Bryson (David Duchovny).  Cole tells Denise about finding Cooper and says he’s going to South Dakota.  Denise is concerned about Cole traveling with Tamara.  “I know your profile, Gordon,” Denise explains, “Female agent.  Early 30s.”

“I’m old school,” Cole replies, “you know that.”

Cole reminds Denise that he defended her when she first transitioned.  He told everyone who had a problem with her to “Fix their hearts — or die!”

At the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Frank Truman (Robert Forster) enters the front lobby, which causes Lucy to scream and faint.  Apparently, Lucy was confused because she has just been talking to Frank on the phone and she can’t understand how Frank could be in two places at once.  Andy attempts to explain to her how cell phones work.  “You’re so good at your job,” Andy says, “in every other way…”

At the Sheriff’s Department, we learn a few interesting things:

First off, Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook), former drug dealer and murderer, is now a deputy, one who specializes in watching for drug dealers sneaking across the Canadian border.  (That’s something that Bobby should know a bit about.)  He also has gray hair and he cries when he sees a picture of Laura in the conference room.

Secondly, Major Garland Briggs died in a fire, a day after being the last person to see Dale Cooper.  (Presumably, Major Briggs actually saw Doppelganger Cooper.)

Third, Lucy and Andy’s son has grown up to be Wally Brando (Michael Cera).  Wally is a motorcycle enthusiast who has spent the last few years riding across the country.  Wally dresses like Marlon Brando in The Wild One and delivers a hilariously nonsensical monologue that is largely made up of pretentious references to different Brando roles.  What makes Wally’s scene so wonderful is the combination of Cera’s Brandoesque scenery chewing and Robert Forster’s deadpan reaction.

The next morning, in Vegas, Dougie/Cooper still can’t figure out how to do anything.  After spending 25 years in limbo, even urination is a new and scary experience for him.  Even when MIKE appears to tell him that he was tricked into leaving the Lodge and that either Dougie/Cooper and the Doppelganger must die, Dougie/Cooper looks confused.  Still, his son — the oddly named Sonny Jim (Pierce Gagnon) — is amused when his father eats breakfast with a tie wrapped around his head.

In South Dakota, the police investigating the murder of Ruth Davenport are shocked to discover that they can not access the identity of the owner of the finger prints that they took off of the male Joe Doe.  Apparently, it’s top secret.  “Military authorization required.”

Meanwhile, Cole, Albert, and Tamara are driving out to the South Dakota prison.  During the car ride, Cole complains that they’re not anywhere near Mount Rushmore but, luckily, Albert has brought a picture for him.  Meanwhile, Tamara has to ride with her head leaning out of the window because she gets car sick.

(I sometimes get car sick too.  That’s one reason why I never sit in the back seat.  I share your struggle, Tamara!)

At the prison, Cole, Albert, and Tamara meet with Warden Murphy (James Morrison).  When it is mentioned that the Doppelganger was throwing up poison, Murphy says, “Must have eaten locally.”  I love that line!

Anyway, the meeting with the Doppelganger doesn’t go well.  The Doppelganger, having thrown up whatever it was that allowed him to act human, is now speaking in a stiff and halting tone.  The Doppelganger claims that he’s spent the last 25 years working undercover for Philip Jeffries.  Haltingly, he says that he needs to be released so that Gordon can “debrief” him.  Stiffly, the Doppelganger attempts to give Gordon the thumbs up sign.

After the meeting, Cole and Albert agree that something was off about “Cooper.”  They agree that there’s one woman who can tell them if it’s really Cooper in prison.  Cole asks if Albert still knows where she lives.

“I know where she drinks,” Albert replies.

Who could Albert be talking about?  Audrey Horne?  Or maybe Sarah Palmer?  Sarah, after all, is psychic and appears to still have a drinking problem.

We’ll find out next week!  Until then, Parts 3 and 4 — along with Parts 1 and 2 — will continue to haunt my thoughts and dreams.

Twin Peaks on TSL:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  28. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  29. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  30. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Leonard Wilson
  31. TV Review: Twin Peaks 22.2 “Beyond Life and Death” (directed by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  32. Film Review: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  33. Here’s The Latest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman
  34. Here’s The Newest Teaser for Showtime’s Twin Peaks by Lisa Marie Bowman
  35. 12 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two by Lisa Marie Bowman
  36. This Week’s Peaks: Parts One and Two by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  37. TV Review: Twin Peaks: The Return Parts One and Two (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  38. 4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Twin Peaks Edition by Lisa Marie Bowman
  39. This Week’s Peaks: Parts Three and Four by Ryan C. (trashfilm guru)
  40. 14 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Three (dir by David Lynch)
  41. 10 Initial Thoughts About Twin Peaks: The Return Part Four (dir by David Lynch)

 

 

Horror Film Review: The Last Wave (dir by Peter Weir)


ThelastwaveFor whatever reason, I’ve lately found myself very much enjoying films about the end of the world.  Who knows why.  Maybe it’s because I’m dreading having to sit through another election year.  Seriously, if the world just ended now, we could all be saved a lot of trouble.

Add to that, the weather’s been weird this year (and please do not take that statement to mean that I want to hear about climate change because seriously, that crap bores me to death).  We got hit by snow earlier in the year.  (I live in Texas, where snow is a big deal.)  It rained more than usual during spring.  Summer started late but when it did, it was hot and dry and there was not a rain cloud to be seen.  Two days ago, out of nowhere, it started raining and right now, we are under a flash flood warning.  Since I believe that existence is random chaos with no rhyme or meaning, I don’t necessarily think there’s any huge meaning behind the strange weather.  But still…

The 1977 film The Last Wave is all about strange weather and, in many ways, it’s the perfect film to watch while you’re stuck inside, waiting for the rain to stop.  (Watch it with Take Shelter and have a watery apocalypse double feature.)  The film opens in the Australian outback.  The sky is blue and clear.  And yet the children at a small schoolhouse hear thunder rumbling in the distance.  When it suddenly starts to pour down rain, the kids are excited.  Their soaked teacher manages to herd them back into the schoolhouse.  As the teacher struggles to calm the children down, we suddenly hear something pounding down on the schoolhouse’s tin roof.  Suddenly, the windows are shattering as huge chunks of ice crash through them.  Looking outside, the teacher is confronted with the sight of torrential rain, gigantic hail, and a perfectly blue and cloudless sky.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, three Aborigines are accused of murdering a fourth outside of a bar.  Assigned, by legal aid, to defend them is David Burton (Richard Chamberlain), a complacent upper middle class attorney.  Since David usually deals with tax law, he doesn’t understand why he has been assigned the case.  However, he take is because he feels a strange link to one of the accused men, Chris Lee (David Gulpilil).

Much like Michael Shannon in the previously mentioned Take Shelter, David has been visions and dreams in which he sees the world flooded.  As he researches the case, he begins to suspect that he may be seeing visions of the future….

Well-acted and visually stunning, The Last Wave is a thought-provoking meditation on nature of reality, the end of the world, the “old ways” vs the “new ways,” and whether or not humanity is even worth saving.  On top of all that, it features an absolutely brilliant final scene!

All in all, it’s not a bad way to pass the time on a rainy afternoon.

Embracing the Melodrama #28: The Towering Inferno (dir by John Guillermin)


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I have a weakness for the old, all-star disaster movies of the 1970s.  It could be because those movies remind me of how fragile life really is and encourage me to make the most of every minute.  Or maybe it’s because I have my phobias and, by watching those movies, I can confront my fears without having to deal with a real-life tornado, hurricane, tidal wave, avalanche, or fire.

Or maybe I just have a weakness of glitz, glamour, and melodrama — especially when it involves a huge cast of stars and character actors.  Yes that’s probably the reason right there.

Case in point: the 1974 best picture nominee, The Towering Inferno. 

As is the case with most of the classic disaster films, The Towering Inferno is a long and big movie but it has a very simple plot.  The world’s tallest building — known as the Glass Tower — has been built in San Francisco.  On the night of the grand opening, a fire breaks out, trapping all the rich and famous guests on the 135th floor.  Now, it’s up to the fire department to put out the fire while the trapped guests simply try to survive long enough to be rescued.  Some will live, some will die but one thing is certain — every member of the all-star cast will get at least 15 minutes of screen time and at least one chance to scream in the face of the film’s still effective special effects.

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As for the people trapped by the towering inferno, we don’t really get to know them or their motivations.  (Add to that, once the fire breaks out, everyone pretty much only has one motivation and that’s to not die.)  As a result, we don’t so much react to them as characters as we do to personas of the actors who are playing them.

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For instance, we know that Fire Chief O’Halloran is a fearless badass and a natural leader because he’s played by Steve McQueen.  McQueen brings a certain blue collar arrogance to this role and it’s a lot of fun to watch as he gets progressively more and more annoyed with the rich people that he’s been tasked with rescuing.

We know that architect Doug Roberts is a good guy because he’s played by Paul Newman.  Reportedly, Newman and McQueen were very competitive and, in this movie, we literally get to see them go-head-to-head.  And, as charismatic as Newman is, McQueen pretty much wins the movie.  That’s because there’s never a moment that O’Halloran isn’t in charge.  Doug, meanwhile, spends most of the movie begging everyone else in the tower to exercise the common sense necessary to not die.  (Unfortunately, despite the fact that he looks and sounds just like Paul Newman, nobody in the tower feels like listening to Doug.  If Towering Inferno proves anything, it’s that most people are too stupid to survive a disaster.)

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The tower’s owner, James Duncan, is played by William Holden so we know that Duncan may be a ruthless businessman but that ultimately he’s one of the good guys.  Holden gets one of the best scenes in the film when, after being told that people in the building are catching on fire, he replies, “I think you’re overreacting.”

Roger Simmons is Duncan’s son-in-law and we know that he’s ultimately to blame for the fire because he’s played by Richard Chamberlain.  Roger might as well have a sign on his back that reads “Doomed.”  The same can be said of publicity executive Dan (Robert Wagner) and his girlfriend, Lorrie (Susan Flannery).

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Faye Dunway is Susan.  She is Doug’s fiancée and she really doesn’t do much but she does get to wear a really pretty dress.  The same can be said of Susan Blakely, who plays Roger’s dissatisfied wife, and Jennifer Jones, who plays a recluse.  And good for them because if you’re going to be stuck in an inferno without much to do, you can at least take some comfort in looking good.

Then there’s Fred Astaire, who does not dance in this film.  Instead, he plays a kind-hearted con artist who ends up falling in love with Jennifer Jones.  Fred Astaire received his only Oscar nomination for his brief but likable performance in The Towering Inferno.

And finally, there’s the building’s head of security, Jernigan.  We know that he’s a murderer because he’s played by O.J. Simpson and … oh wait.  Jernigan is actually probably the second nicest guy in the whole film.  The only person nicer than Jernigan is Carlos, the bartender played by Gregory Sierra.

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The real star of the film, of course, is the fire.  In the 40 years since The Towering Inferno was produced, there’s been a lot of advances in CGI and I imagine that if the film was made today, we’d be watching the fire in 3D and it would be so realistic that we’d probably feel the heat in the theater.  That said, the fire effects in The Towering Inferno are still pretty effective.  Now, I have to admit that I have a phobia (and frequent nightmares) about being trapped in a fire so, obviously, this is a film that’s specifically designed to work itself into my subconscious.  But that said, the scenes with various extras thrashing about in the flames are still difficult to watch.  There’s a scene where Robert Wagner and Susan Flannery find themselves trapped in a blazing reception area and it is pure nightmare fuel.

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The Towering Inferno is an undeniably effective disaster film.  At the same time, when one looks at the 1974 Oscar nominees, it’s odd to see The Towering Inferno nominated for best picture along with The Godfather Part II, Chinatown, and The Conversation.  Unlike those three, The Towering Inferno is hardly a great film.

But it is definitely an entertaining one.

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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.