The Tanks are Coming (1951)

tanksarecoming_6Starring Steve Cochran, Philip Carey, Mari Aldon, Paul Picerni, Harry Bellaver, James Dobson, George O’Hanlon, John McGuire

Directed by Lewis Seiler

Expectations: Moderate.

twostar


The Tanks are Coming is the epitome of a middle-of-the-road film (and no, that’s not intended as some dumb attempt at a tank pun… although if you laughed, I’ll take it!). This is a shame because there are a lot of great scenes of tank action that really deserve to be in a better movie. Many of the characters also show potential, but none of them ever fully realize it. So when it’s all over, and you realize that the whole she-bang is kinda mediocre, it’s more disappointing than it would normally be because you can almost see the better movie it could have been.

The plot is one of the film’s main issues, because there really isn’t one. OK, there is one, but it’s incredibly brief. Here it is… ready? A few tanks from the Army’s 3rd Armored Division (nicknamed Spearhead) attempt to bust through Germany’s Siegfried Line and into Germany. As you can see, that’s more of a general goal than it is a plot. The Tanks are Coming is largely episodic in nature, but because of the clearly defined end-goal, the episodes feel more directly connected than in a traditional episodic film. In this way it’s kinda like an adventure across the countryside in tanks (not that war should ever be considered an adventure). Anyway, this episodic structure has been done effectively in war films, but in The Tanks are Coming the elements never congeal. We’re watching these guys go through many different situations, yet everything still feels somewhat disjointed and glossed-over. For me, this frustration is further compounded by the fact that the film’s story is credited to Sam Fuller, the man I consider to be not only the master of the realistic war film, but also the episodic, survival-based war film.

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Fantasy Mission Force (1982)

FantasyMissionForce+1983-187-bFantasy Mission Force [迷你特攻隊] (1982)
AKA The Dragon Attack!!, Dragon Attack, Mini Special Force, Mission Force, Shadowman 2

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Jackie Chan, Brigitte Lin, Suen Yuet, Ko Ling-Fung, Pearl Cheung Ling, David Tao Da-Wei, Mary Wong Ma-Lee, Adam Cheng Siu-Chow, Hui Bat-Liu, Fong Ching

Directed by Chu Yen-Ping

Expectations: Not much, I remember this one being really weird, though.

onestar


I think Fantasy Mission Force shorted out my brain. I’m sitting here, wondering what to type, but instead of ideas forming and flowing, it’s more of a blank stare into the abyss. If my brain on Fantasy Mission Force were a sound, it’d be the sound of a robot who just had a big fistful of wires pulled out of his thingamajig and he’s about 0.3 seconds away from exploding in a shower of sparks and shrapnel. I just — What the fuck? Fantasy Mission Force isn’t even that weird of a movie, it just defies all logic, and any attempts to watch it as a “real” movie will be met with a similar response to my own.

Don’t believe me? Consider the scene when fiery bluegrass banjo plays while Chinese soldiers wearing kilts parade in formation in fast motion. Or when our band of misfit mercenaries encounter a jungle tribe of wuxia-inspired flying female fighters flinging fabric to and fro. Or the Japanese villains waving road flares while riding in ’70s muscle cars with spray-painted swastikas on the doors. And don’t forget the night they spend in the haunted house inhabited by hopping vampires. Fantasy Mission Force is just one big collective WTF for 90 minutes; it’s closer to a fever dream than anything that could be called a film.

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Sideshow (2000)

sideshow_8Starring Phil Fondacaro, Jamie Martz, Michael Amos, Scott Clark, Jessica Keenan, Jeana Blackman, Peter Spellos, Luigi Francis Shorty Rossi, Curran Sympson, Fred Pierce, Shyra Deland, Ross Hagen, Brinke Stevens

Directed by Fred Olen Ray

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Let’s just get this out of the way: Sideshow is in many ways Full Moon’s homage to the 1932 classic Freaks, but don’t take that to mean that it’s a rip-off. Sideshow is its own movie completely, but in this rather small sub-genre of carnival horror it’s probably pretty hard to make a movie without at least in some way recalling Freaks. It’s clear, though, that Full Moon and director Fred Olen Ray purposefully inserted a few nods of the cap to the classic film, and instead of inducing groans they actually work well to pay their respects to what came before (and no doubt influenced their respective artistic pursuits).

But we’re not hear to talk about Freaks, we’re here to talk about freaks! Sideshow opens with a man desperately crawling away from a sideshow tent. The employees of the traveling establishment don’t seem to be in a helpful mood either, as they ominously approach him as if he were their prey. The smallest of the group, Dr. Graves (Phil Fondacaro), then makes it clear to the audience that this frightened fan isn’t going anywhere. Are these freaks cannibals? Are they sadists? Are they just looking for a friend to chat with? Sideshow will have you asking the big questions… and more!

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Arnold Schwarzenegger Pumping Iron HD Giveaway!

pumpingiron

I love Arnold, you love Arnold, we all love Arnold! But we all haven’t seen the excellent 1977 documentary Pumping Iron, which in my opinion is essential viewing for Arnold fans. This giveaway gives you a chance to rectify this oversight with a digital HD copy of the film plus bonus features!

Watch as five-time champion Arnold Schwarzenegger defends his Mr. Olympia title against Serge Nubret and the shy, young, deaf Lou Ferrigno. From Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach, California to the showdown in Pretoria, amateur and professional bodybuilders prepare for the 1975 Mr. Olympia and Mr. Universe contests in this part-scripted, part-documentary film. Also included are two featurettes: Still Pumping and The Hard Science of Bodybuilding!

Pumping Iron (plus bonus content) available now: http://www.vudu.com/movies/#!content/611872/Pumping-Iron-plus-bonus-content

This giveaway, open to US and Canada residents only, will run until 12-20-2014 at 12:00 AM, so there’s plenty of time to rack up a whole mess of chances! Good luck!

The ways to enter are:

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Quick Takes: Ride Along, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Afternoon Delight

ride_along_xlgRide Along (2014)
threestar

Starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne, Dragos Bucur, Gary Owen, Jacob Latimore, Jay Pharoah, Benjamin Flores Jr.
Directed by Tim Story

Like many action comedies, it would be easy to rip Ride Along for having a dumb plot and sequences where our heroes would never survive if it were real life. But action comedies aren’t real life, so as long as I’m laughing more than I’m not, I’m happy. Ride Along made me happy. Ride Along has gotten fairly dismal reviews from almost everyone, and while I can’t defend it as some great piece of cinema, it’s definitely more fun than the consensus makes it appear. What it comes down to is that I think Kevin Hart is funny, and I also love me some Ice Cube. Together they make a great comedy duo. The action could have been shot better, but this is a small complaint in a quick, fun, entertaining movie. Clear your mind for a night and just ride along with it.

a92058kywgvRise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
threehalfstar

Starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris, Ty Olsson, David Hewlett
Directed by Rupert Wyatt

I love the original Planet of the Apes films, but after seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes I think it might be hard to go back. I’m shocked how much I enjoyed this one. You really couldn’t ask for a better modern take on the Planet of the Apes saga, although I do wonder if they’ll stick with CG for the more evolved humanoid apes if they continue the series. I suppose they will, but Rick Baker’s makeup from Tim Burton’s 2001 remake was so good I kinda wish they’d do that again. Anyway, if you’ve been on the fence for the last few years, definitely watch this one! By focusing the story on a single ape, we are able to feel for the character, right down to the point of cheering the apes on during the film’s climactic (and awesome) final act. I can’t wait to see the sequel!

afternoon-delight-posterAfternoon Delight (2013)
threestar

Starring Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch, Jessica St. Clair, Michaela Watkins, Josh Stamberg, John Kapelos, Keegan Michael Key, Annie Mumolo
Directed by Jill Soloway

Afternoon Delight walks a thin line between drama and dark comedy, delivering both very well and remaining engaging throughout. At least for me. I can imagine this one will split people, as it’s pretty much nothing but spoiled white people problems. They are problems nonetheless, and something as life affecting as being unhappy in a relationship shouldn’t be trivialized. Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is the unhappy one in question, and her life changes course when she visits a strip club with her husband and another couple. Rachel becomes somewhat obsessed, or at the very least highly interested, in getting to know McKenna (Juno Temple), the stripper she connected with. One thing leads to another and McKenna is living in Rachel’s spare bedroom. What makes Afternoon Delight so interesting to me is how much director Jill Soloway seems to be saying with the film, without actually saying it. There’s so much to dissect about the character relationships, revealing insightful takes on truth, trust and the relationships that shape our lives. Kathryn Hahn is superb as Rachel, giving a raw, emotional performance that deserves acclaim, and Juno Temple is a perfect, confident complement to Hahn’s nervous energy. Very good, but definitely not for everyone.

Horror Block — November 2014 Unboxing Video!

I’m back with another Horror Block! If you don’t already know, Horror Block is a horror-themed subscription box that’s $20 a month + shipping (with the shipping cost dependent on where you live). For me it totaled out to be just shy of $30. Horror Block is based in Canada and ships their boxes internationally, so the whole world can enjoy them! If you’re thinking about ordering one, do so through one of the ads on the sidebar or the links on these posts and I’ll get a cut!

But don’t just order blindly; Watch the video and find out if Horror Block is right for you! As always, I always appreciate any feedback or suggestions about the videos, so let me know in the comments. Thanks!

I’m on a Podcast — Filmwhys #42 Rashomon and The Guyver

vintage-cat-headphones
It’s that time again! Bubbawheat from the superhero-centric Flights, Tights & Movie Nights was kind enough to have me on his show Filmwhys again, but this time on a “real” episode where we go one-on-one about a pair of movies. I think this is my best podcast showing yet, so if you’ve been waiting around this is the one to listen to. (Although I haven’t listened back to it yet, so I reserve the right to change my mind. :P )

We talked about the classic Akira Kurosawa film Rashomon, and the ’90s “classic” The Guyver. Yes, they are two of the most opposite movies you could find, which is why they perfectly represent my love of both ends of the cinematic spectrum. And if you want to be cheeky you could say that thanks to the success of Rashomon opening the doors to foreign cinema in the US, The Guyver (being based on a manga) is partially in its debt! So every time you see a questionable film/TV show based on a Japanese property, feel free to tweet about it with a #ThanksRashomon hashtag! :) Anyway it was a good talk and a lot of fun. I also did not have time to write full reviews — or any reviews, for that matter — of these films, so if want my thoughts you’ll have to listen!

If you want to do that, I’ve embedded it below! If you wanna subscribe to the show or listen on a portable device you can head to iTunes, Stitcher, or PodOmatic (and for convenience’s sake those links will take you right to the respective Filmwhys page on each service). And don’t forget to throw Bubbawheat some love, too! Subscribe to the show if you like it and check out his site!

As always, I love feedback, so if you listen to the show let me know what you think! Thanks for listening!

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