Horror of Dracula (1958)

Watched this 1958 British Hammer movie,  Horror of Dracula, on Svengoolie.  It is a good version of the Dracula stories and I give it 3.5 out of 5.  

[From Wikipedia] Dracula is a 1958 British supernatural horror film directed by Terence Fisher and written by Jimmy Sangster based on Bram Stoker‘s novel of the same name. The first in the series of Hammer Horror films starring Christopher Lee as Count Dracula, the film also features Peter Cushing as Doctor Van Helsing, along with Michael GoughMelissa StriblingCarol Marsh, and John Van Eyssen.

In the United States the film was released as a double feature with the Universal Pictures film The Thing That Couldn’t Die, and was retitled Horror of Dracula to avoid confusion with the US original by Universal, 1931’s Dracula. Production began at Bray Studios on 17 November 1957 with an investment of £81,000. 

As Count Dracula, Lee fixed the image of the fanged vampire in popular culture.Christopher Frayling writes, “Dracula introduced fangs, red contact lenses, décolletage, ready-prepared wooden stakes and – in the celebrated credits sequence – blood being spattered from off-screen over the Count’s coffin.”[5] Lee also introduced a dark, brooding sexuality to the character, with Tim Stanley stating, “Lee’s sensuality was subversive in that it hinted that women might quite like having their neck chewed on by a stud”.

In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine saw Dracula ranked the 65th best British film ever.  Empire magazine ranked Lee’s portrayal as Count Dracula the 7th Greatest Horror Movie Character of All Time.

The Hitcher (1988)

Watched The Hitcher from Netflix DVD. 
The Hitcher is from 1986. I will give it 3 out of 5. I will say that I thought some of the reviewers were kinda harsh.  The car crashes and effects were pretty cool.  I like the old school movies where they really do the stunts,  not CG .
[From Wikipedia] American road thriller film directed by Robert Harmon and written by Eric Red. It stars Rutger Hauer as a seemingly suicidal and homicidal maniac and C. Thomas Howell as his primary victim. The film also features Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jeffrey DeMunn. It was released in the United States on February 21, 1986. The film met with tepid critical response and grossed about $5.8 million.[2] 

Spoiler below

Jim Halsey, a young man delivering a car from Chicago to San Diego, spots a man hitchhiking in the West Texas desert and gives him a ride. The hitcher, John Ryder, is brooding and evasive. When Jim passes a stranded car, Ryder forces his leg down on the accelerator. Ryder states he murdered the driver and intends to do the same to Jim, threatening him with a switchblade. Terrified, Jim asks what Ryder wants. He replies, “I want you to stop me.” When Jim realizes that Ryder never put on his seat belt and the car’s passenger door is ajar, he shoves him out the door.

Relieved, Jim continues on his journey. When he sees Ryder in the back of a family car, Jim tries to warn them but becomes involved in an accident. He later comes across the family’s blood-soaked car and vomits. At an abandoned gas station, Ryder corners Jim but simply tosses him the keys he took from Jim’s car. After Ryder leaves with a trucker, Jim encounters him again at another gas station, where the truck nearly runs him down as it crashes into the pumps. As Jim flees, Ryder causes the station to explode.

At a roadside diner, Jim meets Nash, a waitress, and calls the police. He finds a severed finger in his food and realizes Ryder is present. The police arrest Jim, as Ryder has framed Jim for his murders. Though the police doubt his guilt, they lock him up overnight as protocol. When Jim wakes, he finds the cell door unlocked and all the officers dead. He panics and flees with a revolver. At a gas station, he sees two officers, takes them hostage, and speaks to Captain Esteridge, the officer in charge of the manhunt for Jim, on the radio. As Esteridge convinces Jim to surrender, Ryder pulls up and kills the two officers.

The patrol car crashes, and Ryder disappears again. After briefly considering suicide, Jim reaches a cafe, where Ryder confronts him. After pointing out Jim’s revolver is unloaded, Ryder leaves him several bullets and departs. Jim boards a bus, where he meets Nash and attempts to explain his situation. After a police car pulls over the bus, Jim surrenders, and the furious officers accuse him of killing their colleagues and attempt to kill him. Nash appears with Jim’s revolver, disarms the officers, and flees with Jim in their patrol car. As the police chase after them, Ryder joins the chase and murders the officers by causing a massive car accident.

Jim and Nash abandon the patrol car and hike to a motel. While Jim is in the shower, Ryder abducts Nash. Jim searches for her and is discovered by Esteridge, who takes Jim to two trucks with Nash tied between them with a gag in her mouth. Ryder is at the wheel of one truck and threatens to tear Nash apart. Esteridge tells Jim that his men cannot shoot Ryder as his foot will slip off the clutch, which would cause the truck to roll and kill Nash. Jim enters the cab with Ryder, who gives him a revolver and tells him to shoot, but Jim is unable to do so. Ryder, disappointed, releases the clutch, killing Nash. Ryder is taken into custody. Esteridge gives Jim a ride, but Jim, believing the police cannot hold Ryder, takes Esteridge’s revolver and vehicle to chase down Ryder’s prison bus. Ryder kills the deputies and leaps through Jim’s windshield as the bus crashes. Jim slams on his brakes, sending Ryder through the windshield and onto the road. Ryder challenges Jim to run him over, which he does. As Jim leaves his car to observe Ryder’s body, Ryder jumps up, and Jim shoots him repeatedly with a shotgun. Jim leans against Esteridge’s car and begins smoking as the sun sets.

Black Widow Movie Delayed

Disney has decided to delay the release of Marvel Studios’ Black Widow following the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Black Widow was originally scheduled to be released on May 1st. There is no new date for the movie. Black Widow follows New Mutants, Mulan, and Antlerswhich Disney delayed last week. Black Widow was supposed to kick off the fourth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and was planned to be the first big film in the franchise following Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Inside Pink Floyd

Watched this Pink Floyd documentary. I thought it was well done and I enjoyed it.  The band members from Mostly Autumn, Pink Floyd supper fans,  are interviewed about each Album.  They movie also contains two performances by Mostly Autumn and they do incredible covers.  I give the movie 4 out of 5.
[From Prog Archives] This is one out of many “Critical Review / Inside” DVD collection. What is different here is that the members of the band do take part and provide interviews about their work their interaction. I believe that those hints are a definite plus to this particular document.

A long episode (almost 13 minutes) is dedicated to their debut album: “Piper”. Some fine documents can be seen as the promotional video for “Arnold Lane” and some shots of “Let’s All Make Love In London” with shots from “Interstellar Overdrive”.

I also picked up one funny quote from Roger: “I was demoted from lead guitar to rhythm guitar and finally bass. There was always this frightful fear I could end up as the drummer”!

There are also three members from “Mostly Autumn” who are being interviewed. While Heather Findley and Bryan Josh are talking about the band, the influences and the music in general; Ian Jennings (their keyboards player) has a more technical angle which is one of the less interesting aspect of this collection (in general).

The images used to illustrate “See Emily Play” were shot in Brussels in 67 by the Belgian television. I once saw the whole stuff (about twenty minutes of play back in the surroundings of the Atomium). This long section about “ASOS” (over eleven minutes) is mostly dedicated to Syd and the growing problems that the band was experiencing with him (till his replacement by David).

After a short interlude about “More”, the stress is mainly put on the live record from “Ummagumma” and the importance of their live sets. Another quote from Roger about it: “Ummagumma, yeah. What a disaster!”?(five minutes are spent on this double album).

About “Atom Heart Mother”, the interview of Nick shows how difficult is was to record this album with the orchestra and I quote again Roger “I wouldn’t dream of performing anything that embarrassing?I’m not playing that rubbish.” What’s valuable here are some footage of the track being played by the band only in a live representation. David’s view about the album is the following: “ATM now strikes me as absolute crap”. This chapter lasts for about eight minutes. 41

I particularly like the sequence about “Meddle” for several reasons: first, it was my first Floyd album that I purchased (back in 71) and second two of my fave tracks are featured (I guess that I don’t need to tell you which ones, right)? David is more enthusiast about “Echoes” than previous songs from the band. He said: “At the end of Echoes is this kind of guitar orchestra going on?I still think this is wonderful”. I bet you it is!!! A mere six minutes for these two fabulous songs (none of the others from this album are covered). 47

The next part is the best known visually since it uses footage from “Live At Pompei” namely “ASOS”, “One Of These Days”, “Echoes”. The problem at this stage is that the length of the sequences are shorter and shorter. Only three minutes for this huge “live” album (and two for “Obscured by Clouds”).

This DVD ends up on their first masterpiece: DSOTM (ten minutes). Footage to illustrate this section are taken from a Dutch TV programme broadcasted in 1989 and offer little interest therefore. I like the interview form David who says: “With DSOTM we were moving in a quite different league”. Nick, on the contrary, says : “It’s easy to see DSOTM as a turning point now, but we just considered it was just the next album we were working on”.

Clare Tory’s opinion about the superb “Great Gig In The Sky” is also of value. She had basically no clue at all before the recording of what was expected from her, nor did the band. “It was just an experiment”. But a great one!

My version is the second issue and holds some 62 minutes of footage plus a seventeen minutes version of “Echoes” played live by “Mostly Autumn”. A nice bonus should I say.

In all, this document is informative for the casual fan; not too much for the Floyd maniac. Three stars.

The Pharmacist

I watched The 2020 documentary The Pharmacist on Netflix.  It is 4 episodes and I enjoyed it.  I give it 4 of 5 stars. 
[From Wikipedia]  The Pharmacist is an American true crime documentary series produced by The Cinemart. The series relates the efforts of Dan Schneider, a small town pharmacist in Poydras, Louisiana, to identify his son’s killer and how this led to his gathering evidence against a prolific “pill mill” doctor in New Orleans.[1][2] 

4D Man

I watched the 1959 movie, 4d Man, on Svengoolie. It stars Robert Lansing,  Lee Meriweather and Patty Duke. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. 

[From Wikipedia] 4D Man (also known as The Evil Force in the UK; reissued as Master of Terror in the US) is a 1959 independent[2] American science fiction film in color by De Luxe, produced by Jack H. Harris (from his original screenplay), directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.,[3] and starring Robert Lansing, Lee Meriwether, and James Congdon. The film was released by Universal-International. A brilliant but irresponsible scientist, Dr. Tony Nelson, develops an electronic amplifier that he hopes will allow any object to achieve a 4th dimensional (4D) state. While in this state, any object can pass freely through any other object. Tony, however, fails to pay attention to the overload, which sparks an electrical fire that burns down his lab. This results in the university terminating his contract. Now unemployed, Tony seeks out his brother, Scott, also a Ph.D., to help him with his experiment. Scott is a researcher working on a material called Cargonite that is so dense that it is impenetrable.

Scott is underpaid and unappreciated at his new job. He does not have the necessary drive to ask his employer, Mr. Carson, for greater recognition. Scott has become the driving force behind the development of Cargonite, named after Carson, who is now taking much of the credit for Scott’s work. When his girlfriend, Linda Davis, falls for Tony, an enraged Scott steals Tony’s experiment and starts playing around with it, eventually transforming himself into a 4D state. When demonstrating this to Tony, Scott leaves the amplifier power turned off, yet he successfully passes his hand through a block of steel. Scott can now enter a 4D state via his own will. Tony is amazed, but warns Scott not to reveal this ability until he can further test for possible side effects.

While in the 4D state, Scott can pass through any solid object, but he ages at a greatly accelerated rate. The aged Scott soon learns how to survive, when he visits the company doctor, who, while examining him, suddenly drops dead. Simply by touching others, Scott can drain anyone’s lifeforce, thereby rejuvenating himself. He experiments with his new abilities by shoplifting a piece of fruit through a grocery store’s solid window. Scott also notices a diamond necklace on display in a nearby jewelry store window, but decides against stealing it. When he sees a bank, however, his face breaks into a sly grin.

The police wonder about a bizarre crime. More than $50,000 was stolen from the bank with no sign of forced entry, nor any video footage of the crime. Strangely, a $1000 bill was found protruding from a solid piece of tempered steel. Tony realizes that Scott is abusing his power and tries to convince the police.

Scott starts using his newly-found power to acquire all the things he felt he was denied: money, recognition, power, and women. Scott confronts Carson, revealing the experiment, then taking his revenge “for the life drained from me” by literally draining Carson’s lifeforce. Scott then proceeds to a sleazy bar, where he gets some street toughs to back down. With his newfound bravado, combined with his ill-gotten money, he tries to impress a bar girl. When they later kiss, Scott does not kill her, but drains her lifeforce to the point where she has aged badly.

The police have to find a way to stop a man who is unstoppable. Looking very old now, Scott returns to the lab, but the police are unable to stop him. Scott’s former girlfriend catches him in solid form and shoots and wounds him. Bleeding and feeling betrayed, Scott maniacally proclaims his invincibility and defiantly phase-shifts his body with difficulty through a wall embedded with supposedly impenetrable Cargonite. “The End” appears on screen, followed a moment later by a question mark. This interrogative statement leaves in question whether the aged Scott died or survived.

Cry of the Werewolf (1944)

Watched the 1944 horror movie “Cry of the Werewolf” on Svengoolie. I would give it 2.5 out of 5 stars.  

[From Wikipedia]  Cry of the Werewolf, also known as Daughter of the Werewolf, is a 1944 American horror film starring Nina Foch, based on a story by Griffin Jay and directed by Henry Levin.

Romani princess descended from Marie LaTour has the ability to change into a wolf at will, just like her late mother. When she learns that Marie LaTour’s tomb has been discovered, she decides to use her talent to kill everyone who knows the location, because it is a sacred secret that only her people are allowed to know.

Ad Astra

I watched the 2019 Science Fiction movie Ad Astra. It is very good,  with a great cast,  and I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

[From Wikipedia] Ad Astra (Latin for “To the Stars”) is a 2019 American science fiction adventure film produced, co-written, and directed by James Gray. Starring Brad PittTommy Lee JonesRuth NeggaLiv Tyler, and Donald Sutherland, it follows an astronaut who goes into space in search of his lost father, whose experiment threatens the Solar System.

The project was announced in early 2016, with Gray saying he wanted to feature “the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie”. Pitt signed on to star in April 2017 and the rest of the cast joined later that year. Filming began around Los Angeles that August, lasting through October.

Ad Astra premiered at the Venice Film Festival on August 29, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on September 20, 2019 by 20th Century Fox.[4] It received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Pitt’s performance and the strong visuals, and grossed $133 million worldwide against an $80–100 million budget.[5] At the 92nd Academy Awards the film was nominated for Best Sound Mixing.

Shadow Government

Watched this documentary. Pretty straight forward,  didn’t really learn anything.  The movie was full of the truth but presented by conspiracy theory folks.  It ends by telling you if you accept God everything will be OK. I give it 2 out of 5.
[From Wikipedia] It is becoming increasingly apparent to American citizens that government is no longer being conducted in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, or, within states, according to state constitutions. While people have recognized for more than 150 years that the rich and powerful often corrupt individual officials, or exert undue influence to get legislation passed that favors their interests, most Americans still cling to the naive belief that such corruption is exceptional, and that most of the institutions of society, the courts, the press, and law enforcement agencies, still largely comply with the Constitution and the law in important matters. They expect that these corrupting forces are disunited and in competition with one another, so that they tend to balance one another.

The Darwin Awards

I watched the 2006 movie The Darwin Awards.  It has a scene with the Mythbusters and Metallica.  I thought it was ok, funny in places,  not hilarious like some reviewers were saying.  I’d give it 2.4 out of 5.
[From Wikipedia] The Darwin Awards is a 2006 American adventure comedy film based on the website of the same name written and directed by Finn Taylor, the film premiered January 25, 2006, at the Sundance Film Festival. The film features Joseph FiennesWinona RyderDavid ArquetteJuliette LewisWilmer ValderramaChris PennJulianna MarguliesRobin TunneyLawrence FerlinghettiBrad HuntAdam SavageJamie Hyneman and Metallica. This was Chris Penn‘s last movie before his death on January 24, 2006, the day before the film’s premiere. The film includes several full and partial re-enactments of “Darwin Awards“, the earliest of which were fictitious, most notably the debunked JATO Rocket Car story.
The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in- cheek honour, originating in Usenet newsgroup discussions around 1985. They recognise individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilisation by their own actions.

Accidental self-sterilisation also qualifies; however, the site notes: “Of necessity, the award is usually bestowed posthumously.” The candidate is disqualified, though, if “innocent bystanders”, who might have contributed positively to the gene pool, are killed in the process. The logical problem presented by award winners who may have already reproduced is not addressed in the selection process due to the difficulty of ascertaining if a person has or does not have children; the Darwin Award rules state that the presence of offspring does not disqualify a nominee[3].The project became more formalized with the creation of a website in 1993, and followed up by a series of books starting in 2000, authored by Wendy Northcutt. The criterion for the awards states, “In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”[2]

People who have somehow miraculously survived their suicidal idiocy can be given an “Honourable Mention” if their attempted act of self removal is deemed worthy (and humorous), i.e. they tried their best.

The Darwin Awards books state that an attempt is made to disallow known urban legends from the awards, but some older “winners” have been “grandfathered” to keep their awards. The Darwin Awards site does try to verify all submitted stories, but many similar sites, and the vast number of circulating “Darwin awards” emails, are largely fictional.

[From Wikipedia] The account of the JATO Rocket Car was one of the original Darwin Awards winners: a man who supposedly met his death in a spectacular manner after mounting a JATO unit (a rocket engine used to help heavy aircraft to take off) onto an ordinary automobile. It was originally circulated as a forwarded email.

In 1996, after numerous inquires, the Arizona Department of Public Safety issued a news release posted on their website concerning the story. It termed the story “an Arizona myth.”

The story was also debunked in 2003 on the pilot episode of MythBusters, titled “Jet Assisted Chevy“.