What I’ve been watching: November Edition

Yellowbeard – I’ve seen it before, but my father wanted to watch it so I sat through it again. It still has its moments but most of it has lost its appeal over the years. Also it’s too long. After the jokes have worn thin this film is carried by the strength of the character definitions – Yellowbeard and El Nebuloso, mostly. I doubt I’ll be watching it again anytime soon.

Green Slime – One of my favorite B-SF movies. Despite the all-white cast you can easily tell this is a Japanese production. The miniatures are well done, the colors are bright, some camera direction oddities common to Japanese monster and SF movies are present, and above all it has a lot of optimism about humanity – Japanese SF movies tend to take it for granted that there will be a united worldwide agency in charge of space matters and that all nations will immediately and instantly band together in the face of an external threat. American movies tend to play up the political hassles of getting foreign powers to play ball despite the common goal. Also American SF movies tend to have more technology dick-waving, such as the countdown pomp and circumstance with dramatic camera angles around a rocket launch. Here it’s just get in the rocket, clear the launch pad and GO already – I like that.

The Cyclops – A beautiful woman faces political opposition and holds together a motley mob of hirelings while searching for her missing husband, only to lose him twice more in the end. This could have been a good tragedy but there seemed to be a piece missing. When she found the missing man, he was unable to communicate and it wasn’t clear if he recognized her or not; the ending would have had more impact if heĀ  had.

One-Eyed Monster – It sounded so cheesy I couldn’t pass it up. What could be better than a standard wilderness monster plot with the monster being an ambulatory penis? Ron Jeremy’s penis, at that. It’s an amusing idea for a monster movie spoof, but it comes off a bit limp in the end.

Mountain of the Cannibal God – The first part of this one is remarkably similar to The Cyclops – a strong woman butts heads with local authorities and hires highly defective men to conduct a wilderness search for her missing husband. The stuff that comes at the end of the search is very different though, and it was a nice twist. There’s one bit of direction near the end that threw me – up to this point it seemed like a pretty good and relatively normal production; good talent, good writing, competent camera work and high-quality film stock. Then all of a sudden it turns into porn for a minute or so. Not that I object, but it was a surprise since it was a fair bit more racy than any other silver screen scene I’ve seen.

Skyline – A bunch of Matrix and ID4 reject aliens with advanced lens flare technology invade Earth to steal our brains, because evidently theirs don’t work so well. Lousy effects, bad creature design, terrible premise, a cliche here and there (including a Wilhelm, of course), but at least the ending is fresh. By “fresh”, I of course mean it’s one I haven’t seen in recent memory and is different from the other films that are obvious comparisons for this one. It wasn’t much of a surprise ending, but I liked it because it’s similar to the ending I would have wrote in if I had to finish off this stinker and connect it with a sequel. I also liked the way the camera stayed with the characters all the time, so we weren’t privy to any goings-on that the protagonists were unaware of.

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