Black Christmas (Film) Review

BlackXmasThe last in our Christmas Collab series, and I wanted something a little less saccharine, perhaps because it feels like Christmas is done and dusted now, and it’s all a little much, innit, after five days of merriment?

So step forward Christmas Horror. What better way to begin the Christmas comedown than to witness some innovative murders and laughable acting in a seventies cult classic?

I’ll elaborate more below, of course, but I have to say this wasn’t the film I though it was going to be. They sure did make ’em suspenseful back there in the 1970’s, didn’t they?

Beware *Spoilers*

Black Christmas (1974)

Director: Bob Clark
Stars: Olivia HusseyKeir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon

IMDB Synopsis: A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.

My Review:

It’s Christmas at the Kappa Delta Go Go sorority house and its occupants are in full festive swing. The Christmas tunes are banging and the booze is flowing as Margot Kidder and pals get into the spirit.

So nobody inside, nor Neighbourhood Watch for that matter, notice a heavy breathing weirdo scaling the outside of their pretty mock Tudor home and breaking in through the attic window. This is the stuff of absolute nightmares, I will not lie.

While the girls party on after their men have been sent home, Jess (Hussey) receives an obscene phone call from “The Moaner” (who’s called before). As the girls gather round to listen, The Moaner unleashes a torrent of abuse which is both gross and confusing. The call ends when Barb (Kidder) snarks him out and he tells her he’ll kill her.

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I need this jumper

After the call, Barb, who’s a little worse for wear, manages to upset her housemate Claire (Lynne Griffin) by calling her a virgin and she storms upstairs to pack for her Christmas break. I think we can safely say that she’s not the virgin Barb thinks she is, as she turns out to be the first house victim.

Her lifeless body is transported by our mystery killer to the attic where he remains, just him and his victim. Cosy. Meanwhile, downstairs, the rest of the gang fuss around their Den Mother, Mrs Mac (Marian Waldman) who is frankly my favourite character in the whole film, and therefore in grave danger.

Next day and Mr Harrison, Claire’s dad (James Edmond) is worried when she doesn’t show to be picked up outside the school. He finds the sorority house and is shocked to find it rather more progressive that he’d expected (e.g. everyone drinks, swears and has boys over). Mrs Mac doesn’t do much to ease his worries when he catches her referring to the cat as a “prick”.

(I love her).

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Mrs Mac: My Personal Hero

They go looking for Claire at her boyfriend’s Frat house but she’s not there so they go to the police who are about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The main cop on the front desk implies that Claire’s gone and shacked up with someone in a cabin somewhere and dismisses their worries completely.

Mr Harrison is sure she ain’t that kind of girl and so are Jess, and Claire’s boyf, Chris (Art Hindle) so they demand better action from the Fuzz. Luckily, they catch the attention of Rent-a-Lieutenant, Ken Fuller (Saxon), who’s as good a cop as he is handsome. He takes them seriously and gathers together a search party. At the same time he is dealing with a missing local schoolgirl, so the party splits up looking for both girls.

Barb isn’t in the party as she’s been sent to bed to rest (too much boozing, innit) but Jess, Chris and Phyl (Andrea Martin) join Mr Harrison in the park, where they make the grizzly discovery of the school girl’s body.

Jess returns home early and I haven’t explained this yet, but she’s preggo. She has told her boyfriend, Peter (Dullea) that she doesn’t want to keep it and he’s not best pleased, fucking up an important piano recital and then smashing up his piano. (What did the piano ever do to you, Peter?).

What Jess doesn’t know is that Mrs Mac has gone into the attic to find the mewling pussycat and that was a big mistake. She doesn’t come back down. And actually nobody ever asks questions about the cat again, anyone would think they were preoccupied.

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“Hmmmm, I need something sharp for this here murder… which one though?”

One by one the girls are picked off, without being discovered by the others, and in unique and wonderful ways. For instance, I’d never seen anyone stabbed to death with a crystal unicorn before and now I can cross that off my Bucket List.

The frequency of the obscene calls from The Moaner steps up as well, so Jess reports them finally to Lieutenant Sex Brows, who arranges a tap on the phone.

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“Why thank you, yes I do spend a fair bit of time on my brows. Stephanie at It’s Not You, It’s Your Brows on Main Street does them.”

Peter turns up and is horrible to Jess, threatening her when she refuses to back down on the abortion issue. He smashes some bulbs on the Christmas tree to show he means business then storms out. Lieutenant Sex Brows doesn’t like him on sight and begins to wonder if he’s guilty of the phone calls.

I’m going to leave this here I think, after the Questions Section, as it’s worth a watch but let’s just say that the calls are traced – and they’re coming from inside the house! 

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Barb and Phyl took their annual game of Twister VERY seriously

The bumbling cop on front desk is tasked with the issue of getting Jess out of the house without freaking her out but fails dismally (you had one job!).

Plus, Jess isn’t the kind of chick to leave her friends alone in a house with a mass murderer so she pops upstairs to wake Barb and Phyl. That doesn’t work out too well and would ya know it, there’s a final showdown of the Slasher Movie kind.

HURRAY!

Questions: 

Will anyone else besides poor Jess ever answer the fucking phone? Will anyone survive? What the hell is Peter’s beef?

Will the cops ever properly search the house? I mean if calls are coming from inside the house, does that not warrant a thorough shake down of the premises? I guess not.

And… will you ever sleep again? Because I don’t know if I will.

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Eye eye

My Thoughts:

I thought this would be a lot more fluffy than it was with more pillow fights and sorority girls in negligees. I’m not disappointed that it wasn’t that way, in fact I was pleasantly surprised by how tense and genuinely creepy this movie is.

It’s also infinitely more subtle than slashers of the modern age, though it still isn’t for the light-hearted. I mean, there are hooks through throats and suffocations a plenty.

At one point it actually had a Hitchcockian vibe (Psycho (1960), naturally) and that’s what makes it stand out a little more from many films of this ilk. I’d even dare to put it up there with some of the seventies greats. I mean, it’s not Halloween (1978) but it’s not far off.

I recommend it, if you’re looking for an alternative to ABC Made-for-TV festive parables, animated elves and Christmas specials (not that there’s anything at all wrong with any of those things)

My Rating: 4/5. Yeah I dug this.

What did my sweetest baboo Jillian think though? Find out here.

Icetastrophe (Film) Review

HNR9M6HJillian’s pick this week and a combination of two well-worn genres. That’s Christmas and Sci-fi, obvs. Because isn’t that perfect? Like Fish and, erm, candyfloss (the perfect combo).

Christmas Icetastrophe (2014) AKA just Icetastrophe

Director: Jonathon Winfrey
Stars: Victor Webster, Jennifer Spence, Richard Harmon

IMDB Synopsis: A meteorite brings ice and freezing temperatures, which threatens to harm the residents of a small town at Christmas.

My Review:

Charlie Ratchet (honestly) is an impossibly hot dad living in a small town just trying to make a living and stop his evil eyed son Tim from blowing himself up. Separated from his wife Faye (the superbly named Boti Bliss) who lives in the next town along, he’s honestly just too attractive for this world.

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“Yeah I’m just looking forward to kicking back for a few days, eating mince pies, watching Home Alone… you?”

He works for the town mayor Ben Crooge (lol) (played by Mike Dopud), though I’m not sure I know exactly what he does. Something manly, construction/mining? It doesn’t really matter. Ben is not well liked in the town (he is also quite easy on the eye, I won’t lie) but Charlie has to try and bite his tongue because he works for him (I hear you sister!).

This is easier said than done and things get harder (giggle) when we find out Tim is dating Ben’s daughter Marley (Tiera Skovbye). They’re keeping it hush hush though Tim wants to come out as a couple.

I’m p. sure this is because Tim is punching above his weight and Marley knows it but whatever kids, I don’t really care.

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“What do you mean I look like Cyril Sneer from The Raccoons?”

Oh yeah and before we even meet the gang we meet Alex Novak, a mature student obsessed with a meteorite she’s been tracking for some time. Her colleague takes the piss out of her for choosing to spend Christmas Eve working rather than letting her hair down and having a life.

Alex is obviously a bit stupid as she’s supposedly tracking this meteorite so closely, yet fails to warn anybody that it’s about to hit, least of all the small town where Charlie and co are trying to enjoy a jolly Christmassy event in the centre of Main Street.

Just before the meteorite hits, Ben sacks Charlie (for being too good-looking?). I blinked and missed this scene so I’m not sure why, it might be because of Tim and Marley’s relationship. Marley’s brother Scott (Andrew Francis) definitely finds out about them and isn’t best pleased. He’s also a dreadful human being.

So, hit the meteorite does, killing several locals in some wonderfully creative ways and revealing itself to be unlike anything anybody has ever seen before. Like, for a start, it’s all icy and shit, not hot and fiery. Ooooooh!

Ben is a weak little punk and leaves the town Santa to freeze to death when he tries to help a frozen kid, proving to the viewer what a total arse he really is. I sure hope he has the opportunity later to redeem himself…

The town begins to evacuate and head over to the clinic where Charlie’s wife works. But this being a disaster flick means not all goes according to plan.

This happened at some point. Man, he’s COLD

Alex the Scientist turns up, nearly gets killed by the icy fingers of this bizarre natural phenomenon and Charlie then inexplicably decides to put the needs of this idiotic woman ahead of his loved ones. I mean, he’s never met this fool, who’s more than willing to head straight into the eye of the storm (where she will almost certainly perish), and that makes him just as foolish by association.

I’m sorry, we’re all meant to be blown away by how good a man Charlie is but I just thought he was kind of dickish. For a start he sends his son off on his own to make his way to safety. Not the actions of a responsible person, soz Charlie, I don’t care how delightful your jawline is.

Tim does make it to the clinic momentarily but when he the finds out Marley hasn’t arrived he goes rogue and dashes off to find her. Marley meanwhile has stopped with her brother to help a stranded motorist and somehow the two of them end up out in the open. Which is not a good scene, man, not when killer ice crystals are sprouting out of the ground willy-nilly.

I know, you never thought you’d read a sentence like that in your life, did ya?

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“CALL MY FUCKING AGENT!!”

There are deaths left right and centre, some superbly shit special effects (or basically just the one over and over, the aforementioned ice crystals). There are explosions, bonding moments, and lots and lots of snow.

Questions: 

Will Charlie make it out with his beautiful face intact? Will Tim rescue Marley (and will she just STFU for one second PLEASE)? Will Scott get his just desserts (snow cone, anyone?) for being such a prick?

Will Ben come through in the end?

Will ridiculous Alex get her all-important sample of meteorite so she can score Brownie points with whoever still cares?

Will you care? Is this so bad it’s really good? And what happens if you ignore all the advice and eat the yellow snow?!

If you get to the end, you will undoubtedly find the answer to 95% of these questions.

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“Oh hokey cokey cokey…”

My Thoughts:

Sigh. No. Sorry. It was pretty dire. I found myself wishing for an ice shark or something, maybe even a troll, to come crashing through the trees to shake the party up a bit.

The characters annoyed the shit out of me, I didn’t care if any of them lived or died and Charlie didn’t even have the decency to do a shower scene.

So thanks but no thanks, Icetastrophe.

My Rating: 1.5/5. Horrific but my 1.5 is solely for the dude who gets a deadly icicle spear through his throat. God bless him. ❄❄❄

What did my beautiful Christmas angel Jillian think of this hot mess? Find out here if you dare.

❄❄❄

The Mistle-Tones (TV Movie) Review

the-mistle-tones-149032-posterIt’ll be Christmas in less than two weeks, man. How did that happen? I guess I’d better buy a turkey soon…

But instead of doing the chores that matter, I’m fighting off a hangover from Friday night (still) and enjoying the lead up to the big day in my pants. Which means mince pies and this Made for TV Christmas gem.

My choice this week and I deliberately went for something as cheesy as possible. I think I can safely say that I’ve delivered. This is a steaming pile of glittery poo with a sprig of holly on top.

The Mistle-Tones (2012)

Director: Paul Hoen
Stars: Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Tori Spelling

IMDB Synopsis: A talented singer forms a musical group and challenges her rivals to a competition on Christmas Eve.

My Review:

Holly (yes honestly) is a singer who dreams of being part of the local Christmas girl group, The Snow Belles. Her dead mother founded the group you see, over 30 years ago.

Unfortunately, The Belles of Holly’s generation are now run by Queen Bitch, Marci (think a cut-price Regina George played by Tori Spelling) and her band of merry minions.

They’re holding auditions that very morning and even though Holly is running late (cat flushes the toilet then ruins her dress), she makes it just in time to wow the group with her voice, which is predictably that of a wee angel.

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“This isn’t Scrapbookers Anonymous?”

Marci is no fool however and gives the last position in The Belles to the less talented Staci, so as not to be upstaged (sensible). Holly is left gutted and to top it all off, her boss is being kind of anal and dickish. (But he is hot).

Peed off, Holly is driving when she gets the idea to form her own band. Why not right? So she hot foots it into the mall and gets the boss to agree to a talent show, opening up the competition to anyone who fancies entering.

So now all our Holly has to do is put together a group so she can smash the shit out of The Snow Belles once and for all. And she has a week to do so – but where does one find secretly talented individuals at such short notice, hmmm?

Luckily she seems to work in a densely saturated talent factory and enlists Larry from Purchasing (Jason Rogel), Bernie from HR (Megan Kathleen Duffy) and AJ from I’m Not Sure Where (Andy Gala) – all of who can sing but not really dance and have no pizzazz, basically (as they say in the business).

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Missing something, but it’s not denim

How on earth will Holly get around this? While she tries to work it out she ends up in a bar she’s never been to on Karaoke Night, where she bumps into Hot Boss Nick (Jonathon Patrick Moore). Only he’s not acting like her boss, more like Jon Bon Jovi and guess what? He’s goooooooooood.

So Holly finds a (nefarious) way to get him to help the group win Deck the Mall and show The Belles who’s the best.

Questions:

Will Holly become the Ultimate Belle? Will Marci get egg(nog) on her face, as well as her well-deserved comeuppence? What’s her major malfunction anyway?

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“On Wednesdays we wear…” YES WE KNOW

Will Nick help The Mistle-Tones become more than mediocre? And is he doing all this for good reason, AKA because he lurves Holly? What about the promotion he so desperately wants?

Would Holly’s Mum be proud of Holly? And OMG did you know that Holly’s Dad is Reginald VelJohnson (Sargent Powell from Die Hard (1988), no less)?

All these neatly posed questions and more will be tackled, you know the drill.

My Thoughts:

This was terrible but enjoyable.

Sister Sister‘s Tia is likeable enough and I wonder if that’s actually her voice. Pretty sure that Tori’s singing voice isn’t her own but you never know, her dad could definitely afford singing lessons growing up.

I wish Marci had been bitchier and in the film more, a bit more sabotage wouldn’t have gone amiss. It would also have been nice to find out more about what’s made Marci  such a stone cold c—. I have a weird obsession with Tori Spelling, I don’t know why.

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“Overdressed, Moi?”

All in all, this film is what it is but exactly what I wanted on a Sunday afternoon of carb scoffing.

My Rating: 3/5. More bitchiness and general tomfoolery would have pumped the rating right up.

That’s my view, but does Jillian share it? Find out here.

The Wolfpack (Film) Review

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This film, man. It’s different to anything we’ve reviewed before as part of our collaboration and that’s a good thing I think. I have no idea where to start on this documentary but I’ll give it a damn good go anyway, because that’s just the kind of girl I am.

I think that this will be the last in our Blog Free or Die Hard series for a while, in favour of Christmas movies (yey!). Jill and I haven’t discussed this at length yet, though we’re both totes up for it, so watch this tinsel encrusted space! (Basically, I cannot bloody wait).

Also, for the first time in forever I’m going to put the tree up before mid-December, so that gives you an idea of how festive I’m starting to feel.

But to the movie. As always *spoilers* ahead!

I might add here that my enjoyment of this film came in part from not knowing much about it. I got a brief synopsis but then deliberately didn’t dig any deeper because I didn’t want to spoil it for myself. I’m not afraid to admit that I wasn’t even sure it was a documentary.

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Awkward when six of you rock up in the same outfit

The Wolfpack (2015)

Director: Crystal Moselle
Stars: The Angulo Brothers (Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana, Krisna), Visnu (Sister), Chloe Pecorino

IMDB Synopsis: Locked away from society in an apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Angulo brothers learn about the outside world through the films that they watch.

My Review:

The Angulo Brothers are six brothers, ranging from (at the time of filming) 11 to 18. They are Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana, Krisna. Confined to the four-bedroom, sixteenth floor apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan they share with their sister Visnu, and their mother and father, the boys are home schooled and rarely leave the building.

Mother Susanne educates the boys the best she can from the comfort of their own home, while they gain the rest of their life experience from the movies. Such favourites as Reservoir Dogs (1992) and The Dark Knight (2008) become their outlets, which they re-enact together and sometimes film on a shaky camcorder.

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Bat-ears and chill?

Oscar, the boys’ father guards the only front door key and strictly monitors (and more or less prohibits) unauthorised trips outside. He maintains that the streets outside are like a ‘prison’ and worries about the danger of drugs. This means that the boys have hardly set foot outside their door in all their life-times and never interact with anybody outside their family.

Things changed though, the day Mukunda (then 15) left the apartment without his father’s knowledge or permission and, in his own words, “one thing lead to another.” (Going out in a homemade Michael Myers mask can do that for you, yo). This documentary focuses on this event and how it changed things not only for Mukunda but for all the brothers.

The film is a patch work of home footage, interviews with the boys and clips of them re-enacting their favourite films. Tarantino is a regular feature, as are Christian Bale and Heath Ledger‘s Joker. The boys have the performances down, and play out each scene with painstaking detail.

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Clownin’ around

We learn more about Oscar and Susanne’s origin story, of how they met when they were young and idealistic, and how they came to be here. Susanne is loving and protective of her boys, though clearly regretful when it comes to how it all turned out.

Oscar, well I don’t understand a single word of what he says, even with subtitles. I don’t know what has driven his decision to keep his family virtual prisoners under his rule but I’m sure he believes it’s for their own protection.

He beats his wife (something the brother’s reveal) and there’s heavy implication that she’s even more controlled than her children, taking the brunt of his irrational behaviour. This isn’t really touched upon too much but there’s a lurking menace there in the background.

The boys, following their brother’s original escape, start to head out as a group and slowly but surely begin to interact with the world around them. Dad can’t stop them as they grow older and even Mum begins to reach outside their circle, by contacting her own mother who she hasn’t seen since she had her children.

I’m going to go with my opinion that the less you know about it, the more you’ll be blown away by this story and stop here. This post will be a little less waffley than usual as a result but there you go. I’ll obvs still be asking the hard-hitting questions because that’s my thing. So…

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On beach days we wear black

Questions:

How will/do the boys adapt to the outside world? Will they maintain traditional relationships, meet girls, make friends, etc?

What the fucking hell is Oscar on about in every single one of his interviews? Why did Susanne put up with all this in the first place?

And – how is it that each and every one of the Angulo brothers seems kind and lovely, and more importantly well-balanced, when they’ve lead anything but a normal life?

My Thoughts:

God. I watched this with my heart in my throat. It’s very emotional. It’s also crazy that this is a true story and that this family really exists.

The Angulo brothers are beautiful, with long, long hair but what stands out most about them is the purity of their souls (*vom* at my corny wording, but it’s true). I guess it’s their innocence we see primarily, they’re kind and gentle, and despite the fact there’s some very real anger and resentment between father and some of his sons, they never resort to bitterness.

Of course, we don’t know how things are when the cameras aren’t rolling but on the face of these interviews, they just seem lovely. I would like to hang with them, please.

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Our other car’s invisible

There are elements of this life I would like to know much more about, particularly the question of “Why?” (really how can this happen?). But also, I’d like to know more about their sister, Visnu who is described as “special” by one of the boys.

I just want more really, and could watch and listen to them for hours and hours. Their props and costumes, mostly constructed with paper, are incredible. Almost as impressive as the real thing!

Alas, I had to make do with this brief glimpse into a life less ordinary. I fear I’ve played this lovely film down but please, if you love the weird and wonderful, and the movies, this is one for you. Promise.

My Rating: 5/5 LOVED. I’m still thinking about it this morning with a mixture of awe and sadness, so that can only be a good thing.

What did Wifey think? Pop on over to see for yourselves.

NB: This Wiki page is really fascinating the and tells more about how the Director came into contact with the Angulos.

The House on Telegraph Hill (Film) Review

The House on Telegraph Hill - Real Location 7

Jillian’s pick this week and it’s Film Noir, one I hadn’t seen before nor, if I’m honest, even heard of. But I love love love this genre and studied it closely during my Film A-Level (100 years ago), so it’s close to my heart.

We’re still on Blog Free & Die Hard time, and I like it. So here’s to a couple more random titles before we move in a different direction. Maybe Christmas movies?

But for now, how was this one, and how does it stack up against some better known Noir, such as my fave, Mildred Pierce (1945), Double Indemnity (1944) and Laura (1944)?

Well, read on, my friends.

As usual *Beware Spoilers*!

The_House_on_Telegraph_Hill-489480248-largeThe House on Telegraph Hill (1951)

Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Richard Basehart, Valentina Cortese, William Lundigan

IMDB Synopsis: Concentration camp survivor Victoria Kowelska finds herself involved in mystery, greed, and murder when she assumes the identity of a dead friend in order to gain passage to America.

My Review:

Viktoria Kowalska’s husband and home have been annihilated by the Germans and she finds herself in a Polish POW camp, just trying to survive each day.

She’s befriended a woman named Karin Dernakova (Natasha Lytess), who has sent her baby Christopher to America to live with her rich aunt. She’s distraught, not eating or sleeping, despite Viktoria’s best efforts to care for her.

The camp Mean Girls accuse Vik of buttering up Karin just because she has rich relatives. The two do have a plan to find their way to ‘merica to be with Chris but Vik loves Karin and is devvo’d when she finds her dead one night.

Devastation quickly gives way to something else though, and Viktoria dries her eyes and grabs Karin’s identification papers. The voice over, Viktoria herself, asks why not claim Karin’s identity, right? Still go to America and get the kid, live with the rich aunt (who’s unlikely to realise given the years gone by)?

You’re inclined to agree after everything she’s been through.

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“Wake up! I need your opinion on this head scarf.”

Shortly afterwards, the new Karin is interviewed by the Liberation Department about where she’ll head next and she’s very upset (guilt has already set in). A nice Major is kind and patiently explains a few things to her. She’s adamant there’s nothing left for her in Warsaw and refuses to go back.

Viktoria/Karin sends a telegram to Aunt Sophia but a few days later receives a response saying she’s passed away (but to pop into the lawyer’s office in NY if she’s ever about).

Things look shit for New Karin™ but she’s a Noir girl and Noir girls got gumption, so she sucks it up and jumps on a boat that eventually gets her to New York City. In the office the lawyer is a bit snotty, suspicious of her not being who she says she is. Also present is Alan Spender, the kid’s official guardian and also a relative of Aunt Sophia.

Basically, all Sophia’s money is due to go to Christopher (the kid) when he comes of age but until then, her big house and all her cash is Alan’s. Karin manages to convince Alan that she’s legit and he takes her to lunch.

NB: I have to say here that nothing good can possibly come of getting involved with someone called Alan. Sorry, it’s true. Run, Karin, Run! 

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It’s all fun and games until somebody’s brakes get slashed…

Karin suspects Alan has the hots for her and decides to milk it for all it’s worth. They have a brief courtship and then get married. A few days later Alan takes Karin to San Francisco, where Christopher lives in the house on Telegraph Hill.

Karin meets her ‘son’ who is being taken care of by a moody governess, Margaret (Fay Baker). Margaret clearly hates Karin at first sight but loves the boy so it’s sort of alright.

(Margaret is amazing with one of the best resting bitch faces even captured on celluloid.)

On their first night in the new house, Alan puts his lovely wife to bed and retires to the guest bedroom, claiming that he wants them to redecorate their bedroom before they share it or some bullshit.

Poster - House on Telegraph Hill, The_03Later, Karin goes for a wander and catches Margaret coming out of the parlour where Alan is kicking back. Looks like they’re up to no good. Or, do governesses always waft about on landings in sheer black negligees?

I’ll try to keep the rest of this brief because a lot goes down but let’s just say that odd things start to happen and Karin wonders if she’s being punished by Aunt Sophia, who gazes down poe-faced from a mahoosive portrait above the mantel.

Oh yes and one day a hot man called Mark rocks up (think 1950’s Greg Kinnear) – and surprise! – he’s the kind Major from Belsen (Karin’s form concentration camp home). Of all the cocktail parties in all the world…

Mark doesn’t think much of Alan and quickly makes himself available to Karin, lightly trying to get in her pants but also trying to be her friend. She soon needs one when her brakes are cut and she’s almost killed.

Lucky for her a pile of sand is strategically placed where she lands so she gets away unscathed. This prompts Karin to start doing some digging into Alan as she’s determined to prove he wants to bump her off. Mark is sympathetic but urges her not to jump to any conclusions (because women, as we all know, are prone to bouts of hysteria).

Also, Karin is completely blanked by the mechanic who fixes her car, even though it is HER CAR. This is a fifties film obviously so I shouldn’t be surprised and Karin should be confined to the kitchen, but still – some men still talk directly to other men rather than dare talk to a lowly woman and it’s seventy fucking years later! RAGE!

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Karin was a massive fan of Grand Theft Auto V

Anyway, Karin finds out that Chris was almost harmed too in an explosion and Margaret is cagey when questioned about it. The two women have a massive barney and Karin sacks Margaret, but Alan comes back and patronises Karin until she agrees to take her back.

Karin uncovers more shit, Alan tries to trick her into thinking it’s all in her head (been there) and there’s a dramatic show down between husband and wife. Who will be triumphant?

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“Nice dress…lol!”

Questions:

Will Karin’s dirty secret be uncovered? Will New Karin™’s love for the Real Karen® mean she saves Christopher from potential danger?

Will Alan the Fuckingfuckface get what’s coming? What’s Margaret’s beef?

Who does the ladies’ eyebrows?

What will become of the beautiful old house on Telegraph Hill and… Will I ever boast a wardrobe as sumptuous as Karin’s?

All these questions and more will be tackled in this tense thriller.

My Thoughts:

This was dead good. Sometimes I feel a little dubious about older films, not the tried and tested ones obviously but ones I haven’t seen. Will they be dull and dry, full of wooden acting and crap scenarios or…?

Not this one. It’s actually quite tense and had me gripped from the opening credits.

Valentina Cortese (like she was going to be anything other than an actress?) keeps you interested in New Karin™ all the way and never made me doubt she was a good woman at heart, despite the shady start to her new life.

I’d still have rooted for her if she was bad, in fact my only criticism is that I would have liked to have seen her being more of a Bad Bitch. Would one cat fight with the nanny and more red lipstick/smoking have killed you, New Karin™?

I’d also have been done with more Margaret, more female solidarity at the end (they’re allowed to despise each other initially, have a little tussle, realise all they’re fighting for is definitely not worth it and then team up) and all men being done away wit, including the kid.

alfredI mean, Mark is nice and all but he’s a bit handsy and Chris is pretty much just that kid from Mad magazine, very 2D.

Otherwise, it had a good plot, made me shout at the screen a couple of times (sorry, I just hate condescending men called Alan) and entertained me for the reasonable run time of 1 hour and 33 minutes.

My Rating: 4/5

How does Jill rate this movie? Head over to see for yourselves.

3 Women (Film) Review

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Abba took a very different artistic turn when the men left

Welcome to Blog Free or Die Hard, where no film choice is wrong. Except maybe this one, which I take full and guilty responsibility for.

When the best you can say about a film is that it’s ‘atmospheric’, you know you’ve got problems, son. I had to watch multiple episodes of Chewing Gum straight after this 2 HOUR SNOOZEFEST just to erase my own memory for a while.

Sadly, it has proven short-term as it’s all still right here. Handy for a film review, annoying for the rest of life. Still, since Jill and I in the business of ripping the shit out of movies, this one should be a peach.

Shall we?

There are *spoilers* here so be careful, though trust me, it won’t make a difference.

3 Women (1977)

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Shelley Duvall, Janice Rule

IMDB Synopsis: Pinky is an awkward adolescent who starts work at a spa in the California desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant, Millie when she becomes Millie’s room-mate.

My Review:

We open on a swimming pool full of golden oldies being lead around by seventies nymphs in uniform grey swimming costumes. All this is set to one of the most jarring soundtracks I’ve ever heard (it also feels like trigger music, see: Zoolander’s Relax). The effect is ominous AF and I guess that’s exactly the point.

I don’t know if it’s Spacek’s presence or the truth but this scene, with its frenetic use of the music and slightly hazy, languishing shots, are reminiscent of Carrie (1976).

Just happy no-one's telling her to 'plug it up'
Just happy no-one’s telling her to ‘plug it up’

Spacek is all wide-eyed waif of course but less Carrie than in Carrie. As Pinky, she’s a ball of childlike energy. New to town (from Texas), new to the job with seemingly no friends or family, Pinky is vulnerable but I didn’t really feel that sorry for her, given that she’s so freaking annoying.

She sets her sights (for some reason) on the elegant Millie, who has a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp at all times. She’s cold man, and sometimes another ‘c’ word, which I won’t use in this review (but only because my mum might read it).

The other girls at the retirement centre where they all work are quite fun. Super bitchy and indifferent to everything around them, but fun. They just aren’t that into Millie, if truth be told.

How they laughed (which is weird as I don't remember Millie smiling once)
How they laughed (which is weird as I don’t remember Millie smiling once)

Pinky and Millie build a precarious  friendship, which is mostly one-sided. When Millie needs a roommate, Pinky jumps at the opportunity. Millie is appalled at the uncouth way in which Pinky behaves, though she doesn’t drink, smoke or seem to have any sexual experience, while Millie is all about men.

Always good to take a roommate who disgusts you, I feel.

Shit just got real weird
Shit just got real weird

The new roomies spend time at a desert bar called Dodge City where we meet, presumably, the third woman – Willie Hart. Willie is mostly mute, a bit trippy and heavily pregnant. She is married to Edgar (a former stuntman and don’t we bloody know it). She also paints bizarre murals that appear throughout the film, one of which depicts 3 women.

Oooooh…

Anyway, this film takes over 2 HOURS to do what a nice 90 minute film could of done. In short hand, Millie is as unpopular as Pinky but either has the hide of a rhinoceros or just can’t read basic social signals, because she just isn’t taking a hint.

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This aesthetic, all day, erryday

Pinky is unpopular because she’s weird but desperation rises like steam from Millie, who seems to have ideas above her station, trying to entice friends to dinner parties (when she serves pigs in blankets, count me in).

One night she gets stood up by her so-called friends and goes to Dodge City, alone. She returns, drunk, in the early hours with Edgar and they ain’t planning to talk about his former ‘acting’ career, if you know what I mean.

Pinky looks shocked (more likely nauseous) and Millie goes off on one about being judged, telling Pinky that nobody likes her because she doesn’t drink or smoke. She then tells her to move out.

Pinky takes it well by throwing herself into the apartment block’s pool, knocking herself unconscious. In the furore, Willie saves her (man, this woman has a full-time job running a bar, paints all the time and is also 9 months pregnant, a little help here!). She also witnesses Edgar leaving Millie’s, the dirty fucker. She judges him hard with her eyes.

Also, I hadn’t realised that they all lived in the same block until this moment.

Millie finally does something sort of kind, and runs around dealing with Pinky’s business, rounding up her parents (who live in Texas) and puts them up while her friend is in a coma. When Pinky wakes however she claims she’s never seen these old people in her life and screams for them to fuck off.

This part is never explained as far as I know, nor resolved. They simply go home to Texas and aren’t heard from again. Pinky recovers quickly and has suddenly become a drinker, smoker and all-round sex bomb. She also learns. to. shoot!

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“When you absolutely, positively got to kill every motherfucker in the room, accept no substitutes.”

She starts wearing make-up (the markings of a sexual woman) and plays games with Millie, who’s desperate for what? Redemption, I guess. This change in their roles is interesting… for about 10 seconds. Sadly, it’s not really seen through.

There’s a bit of a sideline when we find out that Pinky has used Millie’s Social Security number for some reason and Millie, sticking up for her friend, quits her job over it. Pinky then starts screwing Edgar and… I’m leaving this here because I have spend way too much time on this dreadful film already.

There’s a flipping bizarre and awkward climax – and then… well, I don’t really get it, I won’t lie.

Questions:

What the fuck is the point? is my overall feeling. Why is it so slow? is another. Howevs, to do this properly, some real questions:

Will Pinky and Millie make it together as friends? Will their roles revert back? Will you care by the end of the second hour?

Who in their right mind would go anywhere near Edgar? And what of his beautiful preggo wife, and their wee baby?

You’ll see. If you can be arsed. If not, I can email you the ending so you don’t have to waste any of your precious time on this utter codswallop.

My Thoughts:

Don’t make me think about this anymore. It’s horrendous.

I’m surprised that Robert Altman has let me down so badly but then again, I’m sure he thought he knew what he was doing. The whole film is supposed to make you feel uneasy but there’s just not enough in it. No real danger in the end (for the women, at least), just mind games.

So much is unexplained and unless I missed it when I went to the loo, part of the climax happens off screen, which makes it feel unfinished (thinking about it, I might have missed it). I don’t get the ending at all. It’s all just very bizarre and I’m sure it’s not just because I’m a thicko.

Any positives? Hm. Well, Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall are both very beautiful, I enjoyed looking at them.

I was going to say that maybe they were both chosen for their work in other iconic horror movies (Carrie/The Shining (1980)) but sadly, that theory has to be thrown out the window (The Shining was made 3 years after this one). Both are 1 million times superior and both probably in my Top 25 of all time.

Can I have a nap now? 

My Rating: 1.5/5 – Don’t bother. It’s shit.

So, will Jillian still be willing to be my Blog Wife after I’ve steered us so spectacularly wrong? Or did she love it? Find out here.

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“Hello? Yes, I’d like to speak to someone who gives a shit. About this film I mean…”

The Man Who Never Was (Film) Review

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I wasn’t looking forward to viewing this film, it has to be said. Jill told me a little about her pick a few days ago and all that stood out from the synopsis were the words: World War II.

This made me assume that I wouldn’t find anything to enjoy about it, as war movies are my least favourite type of film, joint first with Westerns. I was wrong, of course, as I quite often am and I’m glad we went with this one, as I would never have seen it of my own volition. Thank you J for picking it and prodding me to step outside my comfort zone.

Fitting also that we should view it today on Remembrance Sunday.

(Incidentally, we’re doing a free for all at the moment, post-Halloween so expect lots of weird and wonderful film choices in the lead up to Christmas!)

So, on we go! As always *spoilers!*

The Man Who Never Was (1956)

Director: Ronald Neame
Stars: Clifford Webb, Gloria Grahame, Robert Flemyng

IMDB Synopsis: True story of a British attempt to trick the enemy into weakening Sicily’s defenses before the 1943 attack, using a dead man with faked papers.

My Review: 

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Gorgeous George

Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu and his mate George are faffing around at some sort of parachute demonstration (?) when George jokingly comes up with a macabre plan to confuse the Germans (something to do with fake papers, a faulty parachute and an unsuspecting British soldier being sent crashing to his death).

Montagu initially poo-poos George’s idea but later comes back to it, having refined it in his mind. The men decide to send an already dead body into Spain (too obvs to send it directly to the Germans, so they’re counting on the grape vine to carry intel to them), carrying fake papers saying they’re planning to invade Greece next (when really they’re heading into Sicily). Sneaky, eh?

They have to get this plan through the heads of the country first, including Churchill himself (voiced by an uncredited Peter Sellers). They then have to iron out every last detail to make it seem legit, so there’s a lot of to and fro, as they wait to be authorised. Then they have to find a body, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Said body needs to wash up casually on the Spanish shore, so it can’t be damaged or suspicious in any way.

Despite this tall order, Montagu gets his body. This is thanks to his right hand woman, Pam (Josephine Griffin) who tends to waft about the office making coffee and looking good in cardigans. She finds a recently deceased gentleman in St John’s Wood so the team rush over there, where they have to convince his father to donate the body to their cause (without being able to tell him what it is).

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ROCK YOUR BODY

The deceased, Willie Martin, is a Scotsman who didn’t put much stock in the human body after death, believing only in the soul (or something), so his father lets him go without much fuss. He just asks that his son’s body is treated with dignity and that he gets a Christian burial. Montagu agrees to the first one (fingers crossed behind his back presumably) and says he’ll try to get the second one.

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Pam

Pam lives in an apartment with her BFF Lucy, a hot librarian who’s dating a soldier called Joe. Joe’s going off to fight and Lucy makes him promise to call her every day. He says he will and if, for whatever reason he can’t, his friend Larry will instead.

Pam and Lucy talk about men (because that’s what us sheilas do, non-stop, some things never change) and the more pragmatic Pam admits she doesn’t want to fall in love with someone, only to lose them to the war. She vows to get through it before thinking about that. Sensible.

Now the gang have their body, they have to make Willie a back story and load him with possessions that make it seem realistic, such as watch, ID, cross bow.

George suggests that Pam write a love letter to him, to make it seem like he had a personal life. So Pam tries but fails to come up with anything believable (never been in love, innit).

Luckily, lovelorn Lucy is at hand to inject some flava into the letter, dictating some gorgeous words dripping with passion. Pam laps it up and gets it down on paper. Luc speaks from the heart so can only be heading for pure devastation in her own love life.

PS. Joe has just come back and then left again on a bigger mission, not before proposing to Lucy and putting a ring on it, yo.

The men are impressed when the letter comes back and rib Pam, who admits her friend wrote it. The men label Lucy the “alleged friend” because they don’t believe she exists, though this doesn’t stop George being a perv and asking questions about what she looks like. This is a fifties movies, so probably not surprising that this is all he really cares about.

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Cheers to the fucking weekend

I’m really stretching this out but basically, the plan is followed to the letter and the Spanish find the body as expected, which the Germans in turn learn about. Meanwhile, Lucy frets about Joe and Montagu keeps getting little stabs of conscience about the unceremonious dumping of Willie’s body.

Later, the briefcase with the papers in it is returned to the British with the letters seemingly untouched. For a minute there Montagu thinks all hope is lost and that their plan has failed. But, with the help of possibly the shittest scientist of all time (who has an iron and a pair of scissors to work with – government budget cuts?) they learn that the letter was steamed open and then expertly resealed to look like it hasn’t been read. Ooooooh!

So now they know that the Spanish (and more importantly, the Germans) know their fake information… Victory, bitches!

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“Ummmmmmm, I think I can hear your iPhone ringing, Lucy…”

Well, not quite as suddenly a sinister Irishman named Patrick O’ Reilly (Stephen Boyd) (a Nazi spy with a shocking accent) rocks up and starts digging into Willie Martin’s (fake) past, thus alerting himself to Montagu and co.

It seems like the game is up but is it though?

Questions: 

Will Team Montagu achieve what they set out to? Will Joe come home in one piece? How fucking cool is Lucy? Why is Patrick O’ Reilly so scary (he’s like the Christoph Waltz of the 1950’s, all passive aggression behind an ice cold smile).

All these questions and more will be answered if you watch to the very end!

My Thoughts:

This film was actually way more entertaining that expected. I mean for a start the plot is satisfyingly dark. Planting a corpse with fake papers to throw off the Germans? Bit sick, innit?

I like the main characters, particularly the women and felt suitably sad for Willie Martin’s dad, who’s completely deflated when he hands over his son’s body.

There’s a little dig at the Fuhrer at one point, which made me smile and O’ Reilly genuinely gave me the willies. All in all, colour me impressed.

My Rating: 3.5/5 

Did my boo Jillian like this film? Visit The Pink Panther Snipes Again to find out!