The Day The Earth Stood Still

November 18, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

From the short story Farewell to the Master by Harry Bates

An alien comes to earth with an ultimatum: abandon war, especially nuclear war, or the Earth will be destroyed by other alien races.

This is, of course, a legendary SF movie. My family always had the TV going on Sunday afternoons to watch whatever cheesy old SF and horror movies were playing (back in the days when you had to watch whatever the Television Gods decreed, rather than choosing for yourself.) This was a big favorite, and my sister had a huge crush on Michael Rennie, who I will admit is easy on the eye.

I saw bits and pieces of it, and of course Klaatu Barada Nicto is a famous catchphrase…but I really don’t remember ever having actually watched it all the way through, until Mr. Otter mentioned it and I said, I’ve never seen it. Well, that was a gap in my cultural literacy that got addressed pretty quickly!

For what it was, a preachy cold war movie about eschewing violence, it was pretty good. The special effects weren’t bad for the time, and the story, although pretty far-fetched (none of his abilities was ever explained, he could just do all this random stuff. And he was exactly like Earth humans…hm.) it all held together pretty well.

The story was interesting enough not to be draggy, and of course the ending, “The decision rests with you…” was great.

The Otter liked this classic and was happy not to be disappointed by it!


October 21, 2022

Internet Movie Database Movie Reviews

In a sort-of-apocalyptic future, a PI tries to uncover the truth about a client he falls in love with.

And let me say here that I really, really, REALLY wanted to like this movie. But no.

Firstly, it’s Bladerunner lite. Dark post-apocalyptic setting where most people come out at night? Check. Anti-hero detective tormented by his past as the main character? Check. Falls in love with the girl he’s going to have to arrest? Check. Big reveal in the denoument? check.

So yeah.

The pace was slow (especially for an action movie), many of the scenes were dark and muddy, and the ending was so ridiculous that I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head at the screen.

No need to even give you spoilers, just trust the Otter, don’t even bother with this dog. You don’t need it in your memories…

City Beneath the Sea

February 4, 2020

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A city beneath the sea. Alien attacks. Irwin Allen. What more do you need to know?

We knew this would be cheesy going into it…Irwin Allen, for those of you who missed the 1970s, is synonymous with big (or low, in this case) budget disaster movies, his two most famous being The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. This…is not of that calibre.

This is a silly, low-budget, badly written filler of a movie. The sets are slightly futuristic but minimally so to keep them cheap; I was about to say they were on a par with low-budget tv series of the time, and looked on IMDB and found that this was indeed a made-for-tv movie. Nuf sed. The costumes lean towards jumpsuits for the men and tight miniskirts for the women, because the future will of course be like that. The writing is abysmal, about the level of a 1930s serial movie like Flash Gordon. This movie is only good to make fun of, which we did.

Otherwise, don’t waste your time on this dog.


Money Train

June 7, 2018


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Woody and Wesley are transit cops who have a boss (Robert Blake) who is a bastard and they get back at him by hijacking the subway car that carries all the money for the transit system.

Um, stupid people doing stupid things stupidly.

This is not to say that this movie was not mildly enjoyable; Woody and Wesley are both young and cute (1995) and JLo is ditto. The plot was okay, just unbelieveable enough to make me roll my eyes, which (being in the middle of apheresis at the Red Cross) was about all I could move.

Mildly amusing, a good way to pass the time, no great shakes.

What did you do in the war, Daddy?

August 4, 2016


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 A group of American soldiers is told to capture an Italian village; the Italians want to have a festival before they surrender, the Americans haven’t had R&R in a long time, hijinks ensue.

Mr. Otter brought this home from the library where he works, and Ottersis and I thought it might be fun…I’ve heard of it, and didn’t mind giving it a try. Plus there were some good people in it, most notably James Coburn, a favorite actor Chez Otter, and Harry Morgan, who will be forever known as Col. Potter from the TV series M*A*S*H.

This was great farce, with nothing really unbelieveable happening but silliness piling on silliness until suddenly everything works out and the Americans come out heroes. But getting there is all the fun, and fun it is.

From the shenanigans at the festival, to the following near-disasters, to the crazy solutions to problems, and subplots adding in, this was funny, well written and pretty hilarious.

The Letter

August 2, 2016


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From a short story of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham

Bette Davis is the wife of the manager of a rubber plantation in Singapore; as the movie opens, he has been shot to death, and as more information surfaces, secrets are revealed…and the letter that will clear it all up (or implicate someone) has gone astray…

Mr. Otter brought this home from the library where he works; I said, wow, a Bette Davis movie I’ve never even heard of! so we watched it that night, and it was great! Bette Davis was at the top of her form, the writing was excellent, and the moodiness and starkness of the black and white film were amazing.

This was a real winner- good characters, suspenseful plot, beautiful cinematography. It might be hard to find, but it is definitely worth the trouble.

The Haunting of Winchester House

February 23, 2016


Internet Movie Database

A family moves into the ‘Winchester House’ as caretakers and of course there are ghosts and stuff.

This review contains SPOILERS but since it’s a low-budget straight-to-video movie, I doubt you’ll ever come across it…and truthfully, if you do, you won’t want to see it. Trust me.

We have had this movie in the pile of DVDs that we laughingly refer to as The Great Unwatched, and it’s been there for a while…Spider Jerusalem watched it one time while house-sitting for us and said it was kinda meh. But because it was the Winchester Mystery House, of course we had to see it!

So let me start off by saying that I have lived within two miles of the real Winchester Mystery House for many, many years. I’ve taken the tour many times (great for out-of-town guests) and have read a lot about Sara Winchester and her interesting obsession.

The real WMH is in San Jose, across and down the street from two different shopping centers, and right by the 280 freeway. It is not in the woods in the middle of nowhere, and in fact the ‘house’ (in an undisclosed location) they use to stand in for it is a really pallid imitation, like showing someone a minnow and claiming that it’s a whale. Or some simile to that effect.

The production values are okay, not great, as is the acting. The house seems to have about six rooms, plus a basement and a secret passage. There are a lot of jump scares, and a bit of oogies with the baby (where did that come from? the main ghosts are concerned with the mystery of Sara W’s daughter’s disappearance) that is crawling into the room. But mostly pretty typical horror movie stuff.

The ending was just a damn stupid ‘Sixth Sense’ ripoff.

In the immortal word of Spider Jerusalem, Meh.

Mad Max

February 4, 2016

mad max

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Max is a police officer in a future Australia, where there has been some kind of social breakdown amid climate change and shortages. Max is part of the Moving Violation Patrol, or MVP, who are charged with keeping roving gangs of motorcyclists under control; when his wife and kid are killed, he goes ballistic and hunts down the gang members and kills them.

Mr. Otter and I saw the new Mad Max movie, Fury Road, as soon as it came out, and I LOVED IT. I was waxing enthusiastic about it on the way out of the theater.

Hmpf, said Mr. Otter in his in-my-day-things-were-better voice, sure, there were a lot of explosions but it didn’t have the same kind of ecological message the first three had.

Now, we had seen the third Mad Max movie, Beyond Thunderdome, when it came out (and that should tell you how long we’ve been together…), and that was a big favorite of mine…but I had never seen the first two.

Why don’t I borrow them from the library and we’ll have a movie night and watch Mad Max and Road Warrior? I said, and so it was done, about a week later.

And…I was kind of surprised by this one…mostly by how low-key it is. Sure, it’s the future, things are bad, the climate has changed, civilization is obviously breaking down. And yes, he drives a pretty souped up car, and the motorcycle gangs are Bad People…but this looked pretty much like any low-budget early 80s (it was actually 1979) SF movie-most stuff is everyday, with a few exotic details thrown in to make the time and place different from here and now. There isn’t any of the punky violent just plain wierdness of Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road. This is really understated in comparison.

Here are two posters for this same movie; the first is the original poster from 1979, and the second is the one that’s on IMDB as  I write this in early 2016:

max poster 1 max poster 2

Shows you how much things have changed, and how much hype this movie has gotten.

Basically, it was The Wild One set slightly in the future in the desert…not a bad story, but certainly not the stuff legends are made of. Mel Gibson is amazingly young and cute, in his pre-famous-nutjob-racist days, when he was just a cute Australian import. Two years later he starred in both the sequel to this (Road Warrior) and Gallipoli, and from there he became a star. But here he’s just a guy in a low-budget movie, and that’s it.

Never Let Me Go

January 18, 2016

never go

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From the novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro.

The lives of three friends (two girls and a boy) from school days to early adulthood.

And…now I’m going to warn you that there are SPOILERS. Sort of. Because by the end of the first half hour, it’s obvious what’s going on, and then it’s just a matter of where the movie will go from there. So if you want to continue, scroll down…






Okay. So what’s really going on is, these children (and all their schoolmates) are clones, and their organs will eventually be harvested, and after a couple of these operations they will, of course, die from having run out of organs. There are references to ‘selections’ and they know they will ‘complete’ after a few of these…and are evidently raised to believe this is a good thing; at least they never seem to question it, or to want to revolt or run away or otherwise try to escape.

The book this movie is made from is by the same author who wrote The Remains of the Day, which pretty much says it all. Aside from the moral/ethical implications of actually doing this (and it’s hard to imagine a world where the clones are allowed to grow up, be educated and have lives with this looming over them) there isn’t much here except a simple friendship/love story.

The Dog Master showed me this when I was visiting Dog Acres for the weekend, and we had a talk about the situation; he thought that this movie could be placed in the ‘horror’ genre, but I disagreed.

If you like moody movies without a huge amount of plot, although beautifully made and with good actors, try this one…me, I like a bit more plot.

The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini

January 16, 2016

ghost bikini

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A bunch of teenagers at a haunted house with a bikini-clad ghost trying to do a good deed within 24 hours. Shenanigans!

Our friend Craiggers was visiting us, and we all like silly movies; he has a penchant for both campy horror-ish stuff, and Beach Blanket movies, and this was a very silly combination of both.

The ghost does indeed wear a bikini (a huge one by today’s standards, covering up a lot of her) and the woo-woo special effect was that you’d see her in pale double exposure, but where her bikini was supposed to be, you could see through to the background.

Tommy Kirk is in this, and Nancy Sinatra as one of the teens (and of course she gets a song…) And Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff both have walk-ons as well, which was fun.

There is some campy stuff, and silly antics, but unless you really like this brand of silliness, it’s pretty excruciating…this one is not for the faint of heart, kids!