Forty Guns (1957)

MPW-33338Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger, John Ericson, Gene Barry, Robert Dix, Jidge Carroll, Paul Dubov, Gerald Milton

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: High. Sam Fuller.


I don’t say this often, but Forty Guns is definitely a film I’ll have to see again to really understand it. I felt almost completely lost through most of the movie, not necessarily plot-wise, but more thematically. There’s a ton of stuff going on, but unlike a lot of Fuller films, it seems as if Forty Guns doesn’t have one specific focal point where its themes come together. That could just be me not getting it, but for right now that’s the only viewpoint I have on it.

The film’s plot is fairly loosely told, focusing on Griff and his two brothers as they ride into a small town in Arizona. They’re working as representatives of the federal government and looking for a mail robber named Swain. This leads them into a struggle between the town and the woman who’s controlling it, Jessica Drummond (Barbara Stanwyck). What really complicates matters, though, is Jessica’s brother Brockie, a loud-mouthed, drunken asshole who’s always used to getting his way.

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7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)

Starring Tony Randall, Barbara Eden, Arthur O’Connell, John Ericson, Noah Beery Jr., Lee Patrick, Minerva Urecal, John Qualen, Frank Kreig, Peggy Rea, Eddie Little Sky

Directed by George Pal

Expectations: Moderate because of George Pal’s involvement.

From the depths of my Netflix queue comes this George Pal directed cult classic. I remember hearing about this movie years ago, but I could never muster up the energy to care enough to watch it. A few weeks back I became somewhat enamoured with the idea of watching some other George Pal films because when I was a kid The Time Machine was the absolute shit. It was one of my favorite films during my childhood and it’s one that I will always love. With all this love you’d think I’d have seen some more of his work, but nope! That is, until now.

7 Faces of Dr. Lao is about a mysterious Chinese man who rides into a town in flux. Mr. Stark, a wealthy landowner (Yes, this is a Western of sorts), wishes to purchase the town from its inhabitants, but Dr. Lao arrives just in time. His circus serves as something of a distraction for the townspeople during the two days that they have to decide on Mr. Stark’s “generous” offer. It’s immediately clear to the audience (and to a couple of do-gooder characters) that Stark’s up to no good, but most of the townspeople have only dollar signs in their eyes.

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Crash! (1977)

Crash! (1977)
AKA Akaza, the God of Vengeance, Draculas Todesrennen [Dracula’s Death Race], Death Ride

Starring José Ferrer, Sue Lyon, John Ericson, Leslie Parrish, John Carradine, Jerome Guardino

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: High, I need some more giant 70s explosions courtesy of Charles Band.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:

So last week I was pretty sorely disappointed with Full Moon’s latest offering, Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt, leading me to plumb the depths of Charles Band’s filmography in search of something sure to wet my whistle. I found it right at the beginning of the list in Crash!, a movie promising more car action than I would know what to do with. Perfect timing after my disappointment with the lack of said action in this summer’s Drive. While Crash! isn’t quite as exciting as the poster makes it out to be, it is a barrel four-barreled good time, with more crashes and explosions than you’d ever expect a low-budget film from 1977 to sport.

The plot isn’t the strong suit here, but as Crash! is Charles Band’s second directorial effort and earliest surviving film (his first film Last Foxtrot in Burbank is a sex comedy forever lost to the sands of time, perhaps for the better), it is interesting as foreshadowing for his later career path. I expected this to be nothing more than a rollicking car crash movie, but it’s actually a horror film about a driverless, killer car and a woman doing her best to avoid being killed by her invalid husband. The woman picks up a small, primitive idol at the swap meet and somehow it inhabits her car and starts driving around, blowing up other cars. I’m not sure exactly what happened, nor do I care, the explosions are great and the car stunts are spectacular, hitting notes that The Blues Brothers would echo a few years later.

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