Monday, January 25, 2016

Movie Review: Too Late the Hero (1970)

Too Late the Hero (1970) - USA - Action War Movie - Rated GP (i.e. PG)
Directed by Robert Aldritch
Starring Cliff Robertson, Michael Caine, Ian Bannen, Harry Andrew, Ronald Fraser, Denholm Elliot, Ken Takakura, Henry Fonda

An entertaining enough war movie but its confused Vietnam era anti-war message ruffles the wrong feathers, being this movie is set during Wold War 2 in the Pacific Theater.

American G.I. Lt Lawson is a Japanese translator who has successfully avoided combat and is about to go on leave when he is instead sent to help a group of British commandos in the Pacific. The British co-occupy an island with a Japanese outpost which keeps tabs on allied ships and broadcasts an "all's well" radio signal nightly. The success of an American naval plan depends on that "all's well" signal being broadcast and the Japanese navy not being informed of their maneuvers otherwise. It is up to Lawson and the British commandos to cross a dangerous open field where they will be fired on by Japanese gunners, penetrate the jungle, broadcast a fake "all's well" signal (hence, the reason for Lawson being there), destroy the transmitter and return. Easier said than done.

As a war movie, Too Late the Hero hits its mark with action, timing, and even suspense enough to be entertaining. The problem with it, that I found, is the allied commandos are constantly bickering with each other to the point they could be heard for miles, but especially the allies come off as backstabbing and even cowardly in contrast with the Japanese. In one instance an allied soldier shoots a Japanese officer in a blind ambush after the Japanese officer has opted out of shooting a captured allied soldier because it would be barbaric, but apparently not too barbaric for an allied soldier?

This movie was made during the Vietnam War and would have been better, with its anti-war message, to have been based during that war rather than imposing that message on a war in which the allies basically fought to no less than save the world from tyranny. It's like imposing an anti-gun message in a movie where a woman defends herself from a rapist by shooting him and making her look like the bad guy. O.o

Aside from its confused message and flaws such as the ridiculous open field across which allied soldiers must run against a barrage of enemy gunfire in order to get to the jungle or back from it, Too Late the Hero does succeed in providing enough to be entertaining for the war movie lover, though anybody else might be left scratching their head in confusion as to who the good guys are.

My Rating: 3 Fingers

Get Too Late the Hero on DVD

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Movie Review: Lost After Dark (2015)

Lost After Dark (2015) - Canada - Horror - Rated R
Directed by Ian Kessner
Starring Elise Gatien, Jesse Camacho, Kendra Leigh Timmins, Justin Kelly, Eve Harlow, Stephan James, Lanie McAuley, Alexander Calvert, David Lipper, Sarah Fisher, Mark Wiebe, Robert Patrick

A retro slasher flick set in the 80s succeeds in having the look and feel of a genuine 80s slasher flick with some creative touches to boot.

Adrienne and her fellow high school friends are sneaking off for the weekend to use her father's cabin for some fun and sex. They steal a school bus during a high school dance and make their way toward the cabin but run out of gas. Finding an old abandoned house that looks like it belongs in a horror movie provides a place for them to stay, but they soon discover this book can be judged by its cover as they are being stalked by a killer.

If someone didn't know better, barring recognizing any of the actors, it would appear this movie were an actual 80s slasher movie. The music, the vehicles used, Adrienne's home, the school, even down to the black guy wearing a comb in his 'fro, they paid attention to a lot of detail to make it look genuine. They even throw in occasional scratches on the film, lens flare, and a burnout for that authentic look.

The story is not any different from a hundred slasher movies from the 80s. A group of teenagers are out at night on their way to party and have sex and instead run into a killer whose family tree most likely has never branched. The story itself is also the weakest part of the movie as, with any 80s slasher flick, it takes its time getting to the eventual killings.

There are several creative touches to this. Don't get comfortable with thinking you know who the protagonist of the story is. The first kill is an absolute shock you will not see coming, and at that point anyone is fair game as the next victim. In addition to the burnout I mentioned before they use another glitch in the movie which actually allows them to introduce a plot twist.

A not so creative touch, like so many horror and especially slasher movies, is this one takes place entirely at night and some scenes can be a little on the dark side. I watched the movie from a DVD on my laptop which could account for some of the scenes being a little difficult to make out. Watching it on a TV screen is advised over a laptop.

Robert Patrick adds a bit of humor by playing the typical 80s Vietnam vet turned gung ho teacher, in this case it's gung ho vice-principal, and he has fun chewing the scenery with this character interestingly named Mr. Cunningham or Mr. C. Most of the rest of the characters are stereotypical for the time period as well.

A bit of warning for anybody who is disturbed by animal cruelty scenes, this may be one you want to skip. The scene does not show anything, so there is no actual animal cruelty, but it is implied and brutal at that, and probably will stick with you during the rest of the movie.

My Rating: 4 Fingers

Get Lost After Dark on Blu-ray, DVD or Instant Video

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Movie Review: Nightmare Man (2006)

Nightmare Man (2006) - USA - Horror - Rated R
Directed by Rolfe Kanefsky
Starring Tiffany Shepis, Blythe Metz, Luciano Szafir, and special appearance by Richard Moll

A seemingly mediocre slasher flick suddenly takes a turn for the weird and not in a good way.

After receiving a tribal fertility mask in the mail somehow hoping it will help rekindle the romance in her marriage, Ellen instead finds herself terrorized by the mask. While being taken to a mental hospital by her husband to help with her problems of being driven crazy by a demon wearing the mask in her dreams, the car runs out of gas as Ellen finds herself alone waiting for her husband to return with gas. The demon manifests itself in human form and chases her through the woods trying to kill her. She is saved by a group of people vacationing at a home in the woods, but the group now finds themselves both in possession of a seemingly insane guest and a killer on the outside trying to get in.

Although there seems to be an interesting premise to start with the potential for having the viewer wondering whether the events are actually happening or the product of Ellen's mind, the film soon becomes predictable and it doesn't take a 5th grader to figure out who is responsible. However, after two-thirds into the movie it takes a freaky turn outside of slasherdom that I sure didn't see coming, and it's not a turn for the better. Let's just say it's Monty Pythonish as though the writer was stuck for a way to end this and improvised, grossly.

Technically there are many flaws with the production of the movie. The opening credits and some digital effects through the movie are well done, but this movie has the all too common problem of many movies which take place at night and that is poor lighting; at times it is difficult to tell what is taking place due to the darkness of a scene. Consistency is a problem such as exterior shots of the house always show it well lit while interior shots convey that all the lights have been turned off. The actors are competent, eh...mostly, but the script abandons them at times such as when friends are killed off, those surviving don't seem to be too emotionally affected.

With its predictability early on, despite any flaws, it was on its way to being a mediocre at best slasher flick. If it had stuck with that I actually might have rated it a finger higher, but the sudden plot twist out of left field sank my opinion of the movie even lower. I've really got to stop reading the positive reviews on DVD cases as this was definitely not up the promise of those reviews.

My Rating: 2 Fingers

Get Nightmare Man on DVD or Instant Video