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Short reviews of the other stuff I watch

 
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Madame X (1937)

Jacqueline Fleuriot (Gladys George) breaks off her adulterous affair just a little too late. Witness to her lover’s murder by another woman scorned, Jacqueline escapes to her home to find her young son taken ill and her furious husband, Bernard (Warren William), all too aware of her absence – and the reason for it. Jacqueline pleads for another chance but the outraged Bernard turns her out of the house, forbidding her to approach their child again and telling the boy his mother is dead. Later, Bernard repents and instigates a search for Jacqueline; but she, misinterpreting the police interest in her, flees from them, taking refuge where and with whom she can – and thus beginning her long slide into alcoholism, degradation, and murder.... Well, it was certainly a big week here for thirties dramas with hysterical fifties re-makes; and even more so than John M. Stahl’s version of Magnificent Obsession, this filming of Alexandre Bisson’s perennial tale of self-sacrifice, redemption and mother love is very unexpectedly restrained. Its only lapse into melodramatics comes during the classic courtroom finale, when Jacqueline – “Madame X” – is being defended by the son who doesn’t know her under the horrified eyes of the husband who spurned her, when Raymond (John Beal), lacking evidence, witnesses and a client willing to defend herself, does the only thing a lawyer could do: he lays on the sentiment with a shovel. Otherwise, this is a pleasingly cool rendering of the tale – and is, besides, surprisingly frank about Jacqueline’s sexual misadventures and drinking, particularly for a post-Code movie. Gladys George seizes this actress’s dream-role with both hands and barely gives anyone else a look-in. The supporting cast includes Reginald Owen, Ruth Hussey and George Zucco, but the only other actor really to register is Henry Daniell, wonderfully slimy as a complete skunk with blackmail on his mind, and who ends up with a bullet in the back. And rightly so.

Magnificent Obsession (1935)

Helen Hudson (Irene Dunne) and her similarly-aged step-daughter, Joyce (Betty Furness), arrive at Brightwood Hospital to learn that Dr Wayne Hudson, Helen’s new husband and Joyce’s father, has died of a heart attack, the resuscitation equipment needed to save his life already in use saving that of playboy Robert Merrick (Robert Taylor), who almost drowned after a night of drunken revelry. In the aftermath of Hudson’s death, Helen finds that much of his great wealth has vanished; she subsequently learns of the personal philosophy that compelled him to give help to anyone who he encountered in need, always keeping the transaction a strict secret. Meanwhile, Merrick, aware that the staff blames him for Hudson’s death, flees the hospital. On the road he encounters a woman with car trouble, and stops to help. Smitten with the woman, he follows her back to the hospital, where to his horror he finds that she is Wayne Hudson’s widow. She, in turn, reacts with violent scorn upon learning Merrick's identity. Retreating into drunkenness, Merrick blunders into the house of a sculptor, Randolph (Ralph Morgan), who allows him to stay and sleep it off. The next morning, Randolph introduces himself as a friend of Hudson’s, and explains to Merrick the late doctor’s philosophy. The chastened Merrick decides to adopt it, and feels vindicated when, after helping a destitute man, he immediately encounters Helen, who begins to soften towards him. However, the rapprochement ends in tragedy when Helen is struck by a passing car, suffering a head injury that leaves her blind.... It’s more or less a case of whether you prefer your cheese mild or ripe. While just as full of tragedy and coincidence and self-sacrifice, this early filming of Lloyd C. Douglas’s best-selling novel is an altogether more streamlined and efficient affair than its deliciously overwrought fifties re-make, deliberately keeping its melodramatic moments low-key and earning credibility points thereby – and spoiling a lot of the fun. It is also, one would think, rather closer to what its author intended, inasmuch as it places the roots of Wayne Hudson’s philosophy, his “Magnificent Obsession”, squarely within the Bible and describes it as drawn from the teachings of Jesus, something the 1954 version is oddly skittish about. This film’s Bob Merrick is younger and more callow, a trust fund brat given no particular reason to grow up until his actions bring tragedy to others – inadvertently, it should be stressed: his near-drowning is just bad timing, while he is only tangentially responsible for Helen’s blinding. Indeed, the only really outrageous flourish here is that Bob, having resumed his abandoned medical career in the wake of Helen’s accident, devotes himself to neurosurgery and is ultimately rewarded for his efforts with nothing less than a Nobel Prize! Otherwise, Bob and Helen’s attempts to outdo each other with devotion and self-sacrifice play out with surprisingly little chest-thumping and hand-wringing – and, mercifully, with a complete lack of angel choruses.

It should perhaps be mentioned that this film’s production designer favoured Grecian figurines, rather than objets d’art resembling A Certain Ebon Deity....

[Video Watchdog (#149) has a review of Criterion’s release of Magnificent Obsession, which contains both versions.]

The Man From Colorado (1948)

The brutalities of the Civil War trigger a psychosis in Colonel Owen Devereaux (Glenn Ford), who develops a lust for killing fed all too easily by the horrors of warfare, In the dying days of the conflict, Devereaux and his men corner a group of Confederates, who raise a flag of truce. Devereaux sees it – but orders his men to fire anyway. In the gruesome aftermath, the remnants of the white flag are discovered by Major Del Stewart (William Holden), Devereaux’s second-in-command and best friend, who makes the desperate decision to destroy the evidence, keeping the secret even when it is revealed that at the time of the massacre, the war was over. The two men return to their home town in Colorado to a hero’s reception – and, in Devereaux’s case, the offer of a judgeship, which he accepts. Stewart confides the truth to Devereaux’s uncle, Doc Merriam (Edgar Buchanan), who insists that it is the responsibility of Devereaux’s friends to help him recover from his “illness”. Stewart reluctantly accepts the post of Federal Marshall, trying to help Devereaux even when the new judge wins the hand of Caroline Emmet (Ellen Drew), the woman they both love. Conflict arises in the town between the returned soldiers and the mining company that has claimed their land in their absence; and as the violence escalates, Stewart is forced to take drastic action as Devereaux gives new meaning to the expression hanging judge.... The Man From Colorado is an unnerving psychological western that sits comfortably amongst the works of Anthony Mann and Budd Boetticher, although it is finally even grimmer and more violent than most of those. The main problem is that we are never given any real sense of Owen Devereaux before the war; consequently, we never know whether the war “made” him this way, or whether it merely provided the circumstances under which Devereaux’s pre-existant psychosis could flourish. The friendship of Stewart and the love of Caroline do suggest the former, but given Devereaux’s success in concealing his illness even when it most has him in its grip, the issue remains uncertain. In any case, the film’s depiction of abuse of judicial power remains disturbing, while the plight of the disenfranchised soldiers, robbed of their land and their livelihood through a legal loophole that the legislators surely never intended, is affecting; the turning of these men to banditry is as tragic as it is inevitable. The film is relentless in its escalating horrors, at least until its ill-judged coda; ill-judged not in content, but in execution: with all that has happened, with all that is yet to happen, these people should not be smiling as they wave goodbye! Still, you can understand the film-makers wanting to relieve the misery just a little bit. Glenn Ford seems to have relished his against-type casting as Devereaux. William Holden has a tougher task as Stewart, again because of the lack of backstory, but he does well in conveying Stewart’s torn loyalties and his doomed attempts to serve justice and Devereaux at the same time. Ellen Drew is not particularly well treated by the script, but she has her moments when Caroline finally rebels against her husband. Ray Collins and James Millican score as, respectively, the head of the usurping mining company and the leader of the ex-military bandits.

The Man From Hong Kong (1975)

Oh, dear lord, how I love this movie! – one of the Golden Harvest/whoever co-productions that tried to find ways of taking Asian cinema to a world that wasn’t quite ready for it; and, in my opinion, the best of the lot. Not even its insistence on playing “Visit The Tourist Trap”, something that ordinarily makes me cringe, can abate my affection for The Man From Hong Kong, since it is all done in that “outsider-eye” kind of way that manages to make even the most obvious location seem suddenly unfamiliar. The other thing that this film really has going for it, given its vintage, is its attitude to, well, attitudes. It is only the film’s bad guy who displays a genuinely racist mindset. Hugh Keays-Byrne as Morrie Grosse offers a few tasteless jokes, but they are jokes; when he says something and, clearly, isn’t joking, Jimmy Wang Yu’s Inspector Fang, and the film itself, immediately calls him on it. Aw, hell! – I can’t review this film, not in any meaningful way; all I can do is react to it. Let’s see, what have we got? WANG YU! LAZENBY! I love that Madman Entertainment thought that was the best way to advertise it. I love that they were right. And co-starring Uluru as “Ayres Rock”. Ayres Rock with one tourist bus!? Whoa, orange paper $20 notes!! Hey, Sammo! Sammo trying to evade The Authorities by running up Ayres Rock! The Authorities in shorts and long socks!! Ayres Rock Fu!!! Jimmy Wang Yu with billing, yes! Stone alumni, and soon-to-be Mad Max alumni, as far as the eye can see. Hang-gliding! Sorry, kiting. Jigsaw doing “Sky High” over the opening credits – ahhh, acid flashback!! Best cute-meet ever. Jimmy Wang Yu demonstrating what’s so special about the Special Branch. Pillow-talk: “You’re my first Chinese! Do you often take white girls to bed? “Only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” The Australian cops’ standard welcome. Subtle Chinese torture. Hey, Grant Page! Owie, right in the man-boob! Gaping unalerted bystanders. The world’s most pathetic police cars. Hey, Paddington! The Sydney equivalent of, “Fruit cart! Fruit cart!” A gaping unalerted dog. That same bloody motorcycle! Kitchen Fu!! Foster’s – yecchh!! Chinese squirrel grip! Cornflakes? Split pants! (I hope those were stunt pants, Grant.) Disinterested restaurant patrons. Restaurant Fu!! Fish Tank Fu!! Exceedingly belated police presence. “A master of kung fu! – but he used his art for an evil purpose.” The Moustache. Australian fashion, circa 1975 – OH GOD MY EYES!! The world’s most dramatic slow-motion kung fu knock-down. Frank Thring!! “Security!!” “This is Australia, mate! – not 55 days at Peking!” A sexy Australian bachelor pad, circa 1975 – OH GOD MY EYES!! Jimmy Wang Yu’s pyjamas – OH GOD MY EYES!! The Princes Highway, circa 1975 – oh, dear lord. Hey, Stanwell Tops! William Tell at a garden-party! Harbour views. White Shoe Fu!! God, no, not the seafood platter!! “The” Martial Arts Centre? Why do they always attack one at a time? Hey, he was gunna fall over! What’s Chinese for, “Oh, crap...”? “Miss Joyce, Ladies Hairdresser →” Elevator Fu!! “If you were a dog or a horse I’d know what to do with you.” Bill Hunter, circa 1975 – hee, hee, hee! And a cat provides the best bit of acting in the film. A sexy Australian bachelorette pad, circa 1975 – OH GOD MY EYES!! Oh, lord, the romantic montage – complete with water splashing. (At least they don’t eat ice cream). A man is a man is a man.... Aaaand Jimmy bags another one. “Asian flu”? Hey, that’s that stretch of road we used to use during family holidays!! Bye, Rebecca; that’s what you get for sleeping with a furriner. Australian car chases: too much is never enough! Nice of them not to kill absolutely everyone. An industrious Australian council-worker! Two fingers? – this film is old. Now, now, Jimmy, that wasn’t nice. Hey, subtle foreshadowing! Now that’s a phone! Orange curtains? – he deserves to die. “Talk about the bloody Yellow Peril!” Sydney, circa 1975 – aww, it’s so tiny. “Hey, you!”!!?? – some security guard, George. Hey, don’t shoot Buddha! Aaaand there goes the glass table. Orange Furniture Fu!! OW-OW-OW-OW-OW-OW-OW-OW!!!!!!!!! A souvenir, Jimmy? Uh, I think this counts as “coercion”.... MORE exceedingly belated police presence! Greatest villain exit EVAR!!!! “What do you do for an encore?” KER-BLAMMO!!!!!! Jigsaw doing “Sky High” over the closing credits – ahhh, acid flashback!!

So....was it good for you, too??

The Mean Season (1985)

On the verge of quitting his job to become editor of a small-town newspaper, Miami Post journalist Malcolm Anderson (Kurt Russell) is sent to cover the murder of a young woman. Anderson’s reports draw the attention of the killer, who begins to contact him by phone, telling him, among other things, that there will be four more murders. As the killer makes good on his threats, public attention begins to shift to Anderson himself, who suddenly finds that his exclusive reports have made him a celebrity. The killer, furious at losing the public eye, contacts Anderson again and tells him he knows a way to get back all the attention he craves.... The Mean Season is half a very good film. Its set-up is fascinating, and about as morally convoluted as you could possibly desire, as Malcolm Anderson moves from writing the news to making the news to being the news. It is also bitterly critical of the tactics employed by certain sections of the media in pursuit of “the news”. The scene that lingers most when all is said and done is that in which Malcolm and his photographer contrive to be with the victim’s mother when the phone-call confirming her daughter’s fate comes: the photographer carefully times his shot to catch the woman at the height of her grief, while Malcolm takes advantage of the moment to steal snapshots of the girl from the family album. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen! But once the killer steps out of the shadows, the film deteriorates into just one more generic thriller, and one, moreover, that never bothers to tie up any of its loose ends. It is also far too dependent on the courageous – read, stupid – behaviour of its characters. Well, maybe that’s unfair, I don’t know. People in films always do that “If I change my routine, the killer has won!” thing, when in the same situation, I know I’d be barricaded behind about sixteen locked doors and demanding police protection. I guess I’m just a coward. Then again, the people who defiantly go about their normal business always seem to end up kidnapped and/or dead, so maybe there’s something to be said for cowardice, after all. Kurt Russell is very good as Malcolm Anderson, not afraid to be unsympathetic; but as his girlfriend, Christine, Mariel Hemingway is all too obviously just there to end up kidnapped and/or dead. A young Andy Garcia is one of the cops on the case. The film was shot in Florida, and uses its locations well.

Midnight Lace (1960)

After an embassy party, American wife in London Kit Preston (Doris Day) is taking a shortcut home through a fog-shrouded park when a strange, high-pitched voice suddenly speaks to her from the darkness – and threatens her by name. The terrified Kit makes it home to her businessman husband, Tony Preston (Rex Harrison), who manages to convince her that it was probably just a sick practical joke. But then the obscene phone-calls start – and the death threats. The Prestons report the situation to Scotland Yard, but the investigation stalls when Kit is unable to prove her allegations. To her horror, she soon realises that not only are her husband and her Aunt Bea (Myrna Loy) beginning to doubt her word, they may be beginning to doubt her sanity.... Midnight Lace represents a fair entry in the “persecuted woman” school of thrillers, and Day, although occasionally over the top in Kit’s hysteria scenes, does a better job with her mingled fear, frustration and indignation upon realising that even her nearest and dearest are starting to suspect she’s making the whole story up. (Married to a workaholic and still waiting for her honeymoon, Kit “gets a phone-call” every time something interferes with her and her husband’s romantic plans.) Of course, it’s Doris, so we believe her – right? Midnight Lace does a fair job of setting up possible suspects – slimy Roddy McDowall, financially desperate Herbert Marshall, kind passer-by John Gavin, mysterious scarred stranger Anthony Dawson – but no-one experienced in this kind of film should have any difficulty picking the guilty party. John Williams lends good support as yet another easy-to-under-estimate Scotland Yard inspector. (Curiously, both he and Anthony Dawson play almost the same roles in this as they did in Dial M For Murder six years earlier.)

Midnight Shadow (1939)

Wow, my first “race film”.... Lord, what an appalling expression that is. It’s hard to know how to react to these ultra-low budget, all-black movies. On one hand, their absolute lack of any social reality and the knowledge that the majority of these productions emanated from white-run companies seeking to inculcate black audiences with the values that would make them “socially acceptable” gives these films a queasy undercurrent. On the other hand, given the utterly demeaning depiction of black people in most mainstream films of the time, seeing them portrayed as normal, intelligent, responsible human beings is very satisfying. Midnight Shadow is an odd little film that changes gears abruptly about halfway through. It starts out as a serious drama about a girl, Margaret Wilson (Frances Redd), who is being courted by a stage mentalist who calls himself “Prince Alihabad” (John Criner); he’s the kind who wears a turban off-stage as well as on. Dazzled by “the Prince”, Mr Wilson (Clinton Rosemond) foolishly reveals that he owns a very valuable piece of oil-bearing land in Texas, which he intends for Margaret’s dowry. This piece of information, and where the deed to the land is kept, reaches not just the Prince, but Margaret’s disgruntled ex-boyfriend, Buster (Edward Brandon), who is waiting for her in the next room, and a mysterious figure lurking in the bushes outside the house. So it is perhaps not surprising when, the next morning, Mr Wilson is dead, the deed is gone, and all three men are missing.... And here Midnight Shadow takes a sharp left-turn, as the “investigation” falls to the province of two bumbling private detectives, brothers Lightfoot (Buck Woods) and Junior Lingley (Richard Bates), the latter of whom favours a deerstalker and a Meerschaum pipe. Weirdly, the film treats these two almost with a straight face. Although they are – self-evidently – the Odious Comic Reliefs, the head of the Texas oil company they interview answers their questions seriously, not batting an eye at Junior’s get-up; and in the end, they do in fact catch the killer. From the film’s handling of these characters, and the lack of explanation or introduction for them, I’m inclined to assume that either Buck Woods and Richard Bates were an established act whose schtick the audience was expected to be familiar with, or that there was a series of films featuring their antics. Otherwise, the acting in Midnight Shadow is fairly awkward, although not terrible, with Ollie Ann Robinson taking the honours as the tart-tongued Mrs Wilson.

Mister Frost (1990)

Police inspector Felix Detweiler (Alan Bates) visits the country estate of Mister Frost (Jeff Goldblum), apologetically responding to an unlikely report of a dead body on the premises. Frost replies cheerfully that he just finished burying it.... The police investigation that follows discovers twenty-four mutilated bodies, men, women and children. Two years later, Frost is transferred to the experimental St Clare psychiatric hospital, having not spoken a single word through two years of incarceration and examination. However, as soon as he lays eyes upon Dr Sarah Day (Kathy Baker), he announces that he will speak to her, and to her alone. As their sessions begin, Frost announces to Sarah that he is no-one less than Satan himself, and that he intends to use her to remind the world of his existence – by making her believe in him to the point where she will kill him.... About halfway through Mister Frost, it struck me how much the film resembles The Medusa Touch: the co-co-co-country production, and the consequent bewildering mixture of accents and nationalities; the central cop-shrink-patient triangle; and the ever-increasing absurdities of its action. But Mister Frost isn’t nearly so much evil fun as The Medusa Touch. The film suffers fatally from its conviction that it’s saying something terribly important – and from the extent to which it has to stack the deck in order to say it. Satan has come to the world in person, we learn, to fight back against his real enemy: “science”; “science”, which has undermined belief in Good and Evil, with its cursed “explanation for everything”. The problem is that the “science” that Mr Frost is battling here is a paper tiger. The functioning of the hospital to which he is sent is frankly ludicrous; the doctors running it are a bunch of screw-ups and emotional cripples; and Sarah Day herself is not just atheistic, but so sceptical, so smug, so obviously riding for a fall that the film’s outcome is apparent from its opening scenes. (In the film’s blinkered pursuit of its “message”, the possibility that a belief in science and a belief in God might co-exist – which, just for the record, they often do – is never allowed an instant’s consideration.) And even then the ending doesn’t make much sense: it doesn’t seem to occur to Sarah that if Frost, as she comes to believe, is who he claims to be, then the last thing in the world she should be doing is what he says. Jeff Goldblum has a fine old time as Frost – has there ever been an actor that didn’t, in that role? – but Alan Bates is strangely lethargic as Detweiler, while the usually reliable Kathy Baker is actually pretty awful as Sarah, particularly during the first half of the film. Her performance improves later on, essentially from the point of the film’s best moment, when Sarah gets under Frost’s skin by telling him, “You’re like a washed-up actor trying to make a comeback – and nobody gives a damn.

Mr Wong, Detective (1938)

The head of a chemical manufacturing firm is found murdered in his office. The suspects include the “foreigners” (most of whom aren’t) who were determined to stop the shipment of a poisoned gas to be used against their country; the dead man’s business partners, who profit substantially from his death; and the biochemist who accused the dead man of stealing his poison gas formula. Mr Wong, Detective features Boris Karloff’s first outing as “the Chinese detective”, James Lee Wong, and has the strongest story of any entry in the series: the who-dunnit and, in particular, the how-dunnit aspects are quite clever. Two sequences stand out: first, SCIENCE!! – as Wong and some physicist friends try to reconstruct the murder weapon, a glass bubble filled with poison gas (was this before or after Agatha Christie’s “The Face Of Helen”?); and later, when Wong saves his own life by (Agatha again) pulling a “Philomel Cottage”, and convincing the bad guys they’ve been exposed to the gas. This episode has certain differences from the later Wong films: Captain Street’s (Grant Withers) girlfriend is corporate secretary Myra Ross (Maxine Jennings) rather than cub reporter Bobbie Logan, and Wong himself is much more overtly “Chinese”. (The studio may have decided to tone this aspect down.) There is an unavoidable cringe-factor attached to Boris Karloff’s casting as "a Chinaman”, but if you can get past that, we’re left as usual with the fact that this “Chinaman” is smarter, nicer and more successful than any of the Caucasians on display. One of Monogram’s better moments.

Murder In The Clouds (1934)

“Three-Star” Bob Halsey (Lyle Talbot) is the best pilot working for Trans-America Air Lines, but his reckless off-duty antics cause great worry for his employers, and make Judy (Ann Dvorak), his stewardess-girlfriend, contemplate breaking off their relationship. After landing in Los Angeles, Judy is greeted by her brother, Tom (Robert Light), who announces he has been given a regular co-pilot’s job, flying with Three-Star. Three-Star’s own arrival at the airport is preceded by a display of astonishing stunt flying, which enrages his boss, Mr Lackey (Charles C. Wilson), frightens his mechanic, Wings (George Cooper), and gives Judy plenty to think about. However, Three-Star is the best; and when Trans-America wins the government job of piloting scientist Clement Williams (Edward McWade) and a cylinder of his new high explosive to Washington, it is Three-Star who gets the assignment---after he promises solemnly that he will keep out of trouble until the job is over. Three-Star still drifts into his favourite haunt, ‘The Dugout’, where in spite of his good intentions, he gets drawn first into some gambling and then into a fight, and is knocked out cold. The time for Three-Star’s take-off approaches, but there is no sign of him. Knowing that failure to show up will see Three-Star grounded, Tom, effectively disguised in his flight-gear, takes over in the pilot’s seat. Three-Star’s belated arrival, head bandaged and so unsteady as to seem drunk, gives the game away. But more is at stake than Three-Star’s career: mid-flight, the plane blows up. When the its fate is discovered to be the result of sabotage, and there is no sign of the cylinder in the wreckage, the race is one to prevent Williams’ explosive being carried out of the country... The scariest thing about these early aviation films isn’t their hair-raising stunt-flying, or their body counts, but their insistence that to be a good pilot you also have to be an irresponsible idiot incapable of following the rules or of learning anything until somebody else – always somebody else – gets killed. So it is in a string of endless Warners war films, usually with James Cagney as the flier and Pat O’Brien as his justifiably exasperated C. O., and so it is in Murder In The Clouds, a First National copycat production, wherein it is the hero-worshipping Tom who pays the ultimate price---and with Lyle Talbot making a mighty poor substitute for Cagney. The story is largely predictable---right down to the love-triangle, with Judy caught between reckless, dare-may-care Three-Star and steady, reliable George---although the revelation about the identity of one of the bad guys is genuinely surprising. In the end, however, it is the astonishing stunt-flying that steals the show here---so much so that for years afterwards, portions of those sequences, and the dizzying aerial POV photography, turned up in any number of Warners productions. Cast-wise, the bright spot of Murder In The Clouds is Ann Dvorak; while the film has a surprisingly classy production pedigree, with wardrobe by Orry Kelly and the script co-written by Dore Schary.

Mystery Train (1931)

Prominent society woman Marian Radcliffe (Hedda Hopper) stares ruin in the face: her investments have failed and she is deeply in debt. She consults her lawyer, William Mortimer (Bryant Washburn) – who is also her lover – who tells her there is no way for her to raise any more money. He sighs that it is a pity she doesn’t have a daughter, who might be thrown in the way of young Ronald Stanhope (Nick Stuart), whose executor he is, and who is about to come into an enormous fortune. Mrs Radcliffe reflects that perhaps an actual daughter isn’t necessary... At one of its stops, the train on which Mrs Radcliffe and Mortimer are travelling takes on a police officer and his prisoner, a young woman called Joan Lane (Marceline Day). Encountering the two in a corridor, Mrs Radcliffe is shocked and sympathetic to see the frightened girl in police custody. Up ahead in the darkness, disaster awaits: the train reaches a damaged section of track and crashes; many are killed or injured. Joan Lane survives---but finds herself handcuffed to a man unconscious, or even dead. She fights off a sense of horror and frees herself. As the authorities try to take a tally of the passengers, Joan is asked for identification. She hesitates---and a moment later is claimed as “Joan Radcliffe”, niece of the well-known Mrs Radcliffe. As she is carried away from the scene, Joan swears to Mrs Radcliffe that she is innocent of the charges against her, and promises that she will do anything in her power to repay her benefactor; anything... Though it can by no means be classified as a “disaster movie”, Mystery Train gives us a train crash at the beginning and a runaway train at the end, and so gets a lot closer to the mark than most of its ilk. In between we have a rather creaky romantic melodrama and some awful “comedy”; though there is also compensation in the form of the outrageously selfish and dishonest scheming of William Mortimer and Marian Radcliffe and their ruthless manipulation of the young couple unfortunate enough to fall into their greedy clutches, which extends even to the point of keeping from Joan the news that she has been proven innocent and the charges against her dropped. With possession of the Stanhope Diamond their object, the plotters bring about a “chance” meeting between Joan and Ronald Stanhope, which yields all the fruit they could wish – almost. However, Joan steadfastly refuses Ronald---prompting Mrs Radcliffe to resort to threats and blackmail. The film’s climax plays out on the transcontinental express to California, where as part of an attempted daring jewel theft, the carriage carrying most of the cast is separated from the rest of the train and goes careening out of control down a long and winding section of the track, up which another train is travelling...

My Dear Killer (1972)

While overseeing the dredging of a quarry, a man is decapitated by claw scoop of the excavator. Soon afterwards, the man who supposedly was in charge of the excavator is found hanging in a barn, but Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton) determines that the apparent suicide is really another murder. Peretti learns that the first victim, Paradisi, was an investigator for an insurance company, who suddenly quit his job some time before. As he pursues his investigation, Peretti stumbles over frequent references to “the Moroni case”, and realises that the death of Paradisi is somehow linked to the unsolved kidnapping-murder of a young girl and her industrialist father more than a year earlier.... My Dear Killer is an unwontedly straightforward giallo, following Inspector Peretti as he tracks down the person responsible for both the gruesome deaths of the young Stefania Moroni and her father and the recent rash of murders. While not amongst the top echelon of its genre, the film nevertheless offers gialli fans plenty of the standard tropes to be going on with: a black-gloved killer, a child’s drawings as clues, the case solved through some outrageous deductive leaps, an Agatha Christie-like suspect-gathering denouement and a couple of spectacularly over-the-top killings. (While the quarry decapitation is a lulu, the high point of the film comes when--- Well, let’s just say that if you’re a character in a giallo, you probably shouldn’t keep a circular saw in your apartment.) There’s also a smattering of some very black humour. As the bodies start to pile up, the Inspector’s talent for arriving on the scene just five minutes too late becomes increasingly gigglesome, but the best bit is his demonstration of why the second victim couldn’t have committed suicide....which uses the still-hanging dead body as a prop. On the other hand, there’s nothing remotely amusing about the fate of Stefania, and this aspect of the film may be too much for some. We are shown her, bound and struggling, at the beginning of her captivity, and the script is blunt about her lingering death by starvation. Most appalling of all, though, and all the more so for just being a minor plot detour, is when the Inspector’s questioning of an obviously unbalanced sculptor is interrupted by the entrance of a buck naked little girl. “She’s a model!” explains the sculptor hurriedly, shooing her away – and who knows? – he may even be telling the truth. All we know for sure is that Our Hero doesn’t bother to stick around and find out.... George Hilton and Salvo Randone as his tart-tongued colleague make a fairly sympathetic pair of protagonists, while the rest of the characters are the usual hateful giallo crowd. Lara Wendel, who plays Stefania (and is billed here as Daniala Rachele Barnes), would appear ten years later in Tenebre, while the saw victim is Patty Shepard of La Noche De Walpurgis and La Tumba De La Isla Maldita.

The New Adventures Of Tarzan (1935, 12 episodes)

Hearing that his good friend D’Arnot (who found him in the jungles of Africa in the first place) is missing after a plane crash in Guatemala, Tarzan (Herman Brix) goes in search of him in company with a British expedition headed by Major Martling (Frank Baker), who is seeking the Green Goddess, a totem worshipped by the natives that (somehow) contains “the most powerful explosive known to mankind”. Also after the Goddess is Raglan (one of the serial’s producers, Ashton Dearholt aka Don Castello, wisely casting himself as the villain), who intends to sell the explosive to munitions manufacturers, while Ula Vale (Ula Holt), searching for her fiancé, who was in the plane with D’Arnot, joins forces with the Martling expedition in order to thwart Raglan. This Edgar Rice Burroughs-produced serial is a real mixed bag. On the plus side, Herman Brix (later Bruce Bennet) probably does the Tarzan/Lord Greystoke transition better than anyone else ever did, being equally at home in loin cloth and evening clothes, while his natural athleticism makes his Tarzan convincing (although his yell is, frankly, a bit of a worry). The serial’s other virtue is its location shooting in Guatemala, which makes a very welcome change from the Californian forests that usually stand in for the “jungle” in these things. As for the rest of it, well, if you’re familiar with 30s serials, you know what to expect. Cheating cliffhangers abound (Annie Wilkes would hate this), as do geographical absurdities (characters travel between Mombasa and Guatemala in a matter of days); and the writers show a distinct tendency to forget their own story as they go along. Heroine Ula Vale starts out searching for her missing fiancé, and ends up all over Tarzan; a blonde – and distinctly hatchet-faced – “jungle goddess” in sub-Flash Gordon outfits turns up for five minutes and is never seen again; and, best of all, when Tarzan leaves Guatemala, he forgets to take his chimp with him!! As for the rest of it, how much entertainment anyone will derive from this serial might depend upon the extent to which they are able to find its racial-imperialist assumptions ludicrous rather than offensive. Personally, I parted company with the story at the point where the Odious Comic Relief – the Odious, Odious Comic Relief – whips a machine-gun from his backpack and slaughters about two hundred natives for having the temerity to object to their temple being plundered.

No More Ladies (1935)

Yet another of the seemingly endless stream of thirties sex comedy/dramas, and even more insufferable than most. Marcia Townsend (Joan Crawford) loves Sheridan Warren (Robert Montgomery), despite his lack of character. He loves her, but continues to chase after every pretty woman who comes near him. Eventually, Sheridan promises reformation, and the two marry. All goes well for several months, until instead of joining Marcia in the country for a house party, Sheridan dallies in town with an old flame, and ends up spending the night with her; his infidelity is revealed when the alibi he gives, old friend Edgar Holden (Charles Ruggles), turns out to be a guest at the house party. Bitterly hurt, Marcia begins to contemplate retaliating in kind, her schemes of revenge fostered by Jim Salston (Franchot Tone), whose own marriage fell apart some years before when Sheridan had an affair with his wife.... The sexual double standard, which dictates that male promises mean little and female promises everything, that an unfaithful husband is to be forgiven with a minimum of fuss while an unfaithful wife is to be cast off with a minimum of delay, has been with us ever since---well, ever since men starting making the rules, I guess; but it has rarely been illustrated as baldly as it is in No More Ladies, with the film’s utter determination to make Marcia to blame for everything. Inasmuch as Marcia was dumb enough to marry a complete skunk like Sheridan, knowing full well that he was a complete skunk, it has some justification, I suppose; but when it comes to an indignant Sheridan, unfaithful and a liar and exposed as both, being allowed to claim the moral high ground over Marcia for her contemplated infidelity, and that without a flicker of irony, it all gets pretty nauseating. A good cast, which apart from the stars features Gail Patrick, Reginald Gardiner, Joan Fontaine and a show-stealing (as usual) Edna May Oliver, can’t rescue this. Rachel Crothers, who adapted A.E. Thomas’s play, had her name removed from the credits; director Edward Griffith fell ill during the production and quit; George Cukor completed the film, but refused screen credit. I don’t blame any of them.

One Fatal Hour (1936)

Also known as Two Against The World, this re-make of Edward G. Robinson’s 1931 film Five Star Final has Humphrey Bogart stepping into EGR’s shoes. Bogart stars as Sherry Scott, the manager of a radio station who, out of fear of losing his job, goes along with station owner Bertram Reynolds’ (Robert Middlemass) insistence on pitching their material at an ever-lower common denominator. (Accused of thinking too much “above” the station’s audience, Scott growls, “You could sit on a toadstool and be above ours.”) In pursuit of a sensationalist attraction, Reynolds has “Dr” Martin Leavenworth (Harry Hayden) dig up a twenty-year-old murder case and turn it into a, ahem, “morality play”. The woman tried for killing her husband, former chorus-girl Grace Pembroke, is now Mrs Carstairs (Helen McKellar), whose daughter, Edith (Linda Perry), unaware of her mother’s past, is on the eve of marriage to Malcolm Sims Jr (Carlyle Moore Jr), the son of a steel magnate. The announcement of the radio station’s plans lands like a bomb in the middle of the family’s wedding-plans, and Edith’s parents fight desperately to prevent the serial going ahead, all the while trying to keep their secret from their daughter. In doing so, they inadvertently reveal it instead to the man most eager to exploit it.... It would be nice to be able to say that One Fatal Hour has no relevance to modern audiences, but--- While this film isn’t up to the standard of the original version, it still manages, despite running under an hour, to get in any number of blows aimed at the ethics, or lack thereof, of those who control our major media outlets. The increasing desperation of the Carstairs, stone-walled by the utter refusal of anyone connected with the planned radio play to take ultimate responsibility for it and its consequences, builds finally to a shocking but inevitable tragedy; the distribution of blame, and the acceptance of responsibility, come, as usual, far too late. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this film, a plot point introduced most off-handedly about two-thirds of the way through, is that Grace Pembroke was actually acquitted....a fact that evidently means nothing to anybody. She is referred to as “the murderess” in the radio station’s advertising, and that is the word that Malcolm Sims’ parents use, too, when they barge in to announce that their son’s engagement is off. (That Malcolm Jr has his own ideas on that subject is the one tiny glimmer of hope anywhere in this grim tale.) Still finding his professional niche, Bogart is interesting here, although it isn’t one of his better performances, possibly because Scott is given too much room to move in, morally speaking; the film would be stronger if he were more actively culpable, rather than guilty-by-passivity. Nor is Beverly Roberts given enough to do as Alma, Scott’s secretary-cum-conscience. The film’s stand-out performance, however, comes from Harry Hayden as the radio station’s sanctimonious poison-pen; and the accompanying implication, that “Dr” Leavenworth is in fact a former man of the cloth, puts a seal of disgust on this whole sorry story.

(An extra point of interest for modern audiences comes in the mock-argument between Edith and Malcolm over whether the word “obey” should be included in the marriage ceremony. We never get an answer and, alas, before much longer that’s the least of their problems.)

The Perils Of Pauline (1933, 12 chapters)

American Bob Warde (William Desmond), at work in China, is left at a loose end when the outbreak of a revolution puts paid to his engineering job. As the city is evacuated, Bob encounters Professor Hargraves (James Durkin) and his daughter, Pauline (Evalyn Knapp), who are searching for a sacred disc that has inscribed upon it the formula for a poison gas that, in the wrong hands, could destroy humanity. They are opposed by Dr Bashan (John Davidson), a Eurasian who wants the gas for evil purposes. Almost at the cost of their lives, the Professor and Pauline locate their object in a local temple, but learn that the sacred disc was divided into pieces and hidden all over the world, to reduce its danger. Joining forces, the Professor, Pauline and Bob embark upon a world-wide search, dogged every step of the way by the deadly and obsessed Dr Bashan.... In one sense, The Perils Of Pauline is the definitive serial. Its story takes us all over the world, from China to Borneo – a detour highlighted by stock footage of hippos and zebras – to Singapore to India to southern Africa to Egypt to New York City; during this journey, the serial makes use of newsreel footage of the promotional around-the-world flight of the German flying boat, the Do X, at the time the largest and most luxurious plane in the world. Inevitably, however, the story suffers from all the usual assumptions of the time, chief amongst them being that white people have a God-given right to wander into temples all over the world and help themselves to whatever they like – and if the locals get in the way, well, we know how to deal with them, right? And then there’s the fact that Pauline’s perils are, for the most part, her own damn fault: for some reason, her father keeps intrusting her with valuable artefacts, and she keeps responding by standing near opens doors and windows and reassuring him that, “IT’S QUITE SAFE, FATHER. I’VE HIDDEN IT IN MY LUGGAGE. NO, NOT THE SUITCASE, THE LITTLE CARRY-CASE. THE ONE WITH THE KEY THAT I KEEP IN THE TOP LEFT-HAND DRAWER OF MY DRESSER”....and then looking surprised when she’s robbed. And, also inevitably, there is – sigh – the Odious Comic Relief, in the shape of Professor Hargraves’ shrieking cowardly secretary, Willie Dodge (Sonny Ray). The way this character [sic.] is used is truly odd. In most cases, no matter how unbearable we find the OCR, the other characters find him funny; here, everyone else is as tortured by Dodge’s behaviour as we are....and yet they keep him around!? However, the demerits of The Perils Of Pauline are compensated by its deliciously over-the-top Bad Guy, Dr Bashan: we know what to think of him as soon as he’s described in the first episode as “the Eurasian”. It’s just as well we do, too, because the script never bothers to explain just who or what he is. He’s referred to a few times as “a religious fanatic”, and it is implied that he’s some kind of high priest, but who exactly he’s representing is left to our imaginations. All we know is, he has limitless resources, and some pretty impressive connections, for a Bad Guy. (Entering the US, Bashan briefly falls foul of Immigration. Not to worry. He simply phones a local big-wig and gets himself released!!!!) Bashan’s ability instantly to summon up crews of henchmen no matter where he is in the world is remarkable, too – although best of all is his Number One Henchman, Fang (Frank Lackteen), who is one of those beyond-all-reason guys who for some reason stay loyal no matter how badly they’re treated. In one hilarious sequence, as Fang is trying to steal the MacGuffin, he is menaced by a python, mauled by a leopard, and captured by the good guys. To avoid being made to talk, he throws himself into a crocodile-infested river and outswims the crocs, then staggers about ten miles through the jungle to reach Bashan. Bashan’s greeting? “YOU HAVE FAILED!!” For the rest, two sequences stand out. First, near the beginning, the Professor and Pauline attempt to locate the first piece of the disc inside a temple while it is being shelled. This episode includes a shot of a statue outside the temple, with a shell exploding right next to it....at shot that is repeated about twenty times. <Steve Martin> "They hate that statue! </Steve Martin> The other, my absolute favourite, naturally, comes when the story reaches Singapore, and our characters find themselves in a hotel that features an unfenced shark pool out in the garden: you can’t help wondering how many inebriated guests never actually found their way back to their rooms over the years. And of course, this episode culminates in a fist-fight staged on the astonishingly flimsy balcony of our heroine’s room, which just happens to be directly over the pool....

The Phantom Of The West (1931, 10 chapters)

After serving fifteen years in jail, Francisco Cortez (Frank Lanning) escapes. His desperate flight across the desert leads him to the ranch of Jim Lester (Tom Tyler), whose father Cortez was convicted of murdering. Cortez swears his innocence, insisting that seven men in the nearby town of Rawdon know the truth, and that one of them is the real killer. Lester begins his own investigation, during which he enters into an uneasy alliance with a girl known locally as Mary Smith. In actuality she is Cortez’s daughter, Mona (Dorothy Gulliver), and has sworn to prove her father’s innocence. Meanwhile, Jim’s investigation is hampered, and his life threatened, by a mysterious figure known as “The Phantom”.... This Mascot production is severely hampered by its cripplingly low budget, even to the point of not being a “real” western at all. Try figuring out when it’s meant to be set: it’s got cowboys and posses and shoot-outs and claim-jumping, all right, but it’s also got telephones; and while the men all wear chaps and ten-gallon hats, secondary female lead Ruby Blair (Hallie Sullivan) swans around in knee-length drop-waist dresses and high heels. It’s also fatally obscure about some of its plot-points: for example, it’s not until the final episode that it is made clear that there are in fact two almost identical gangs of mysterious riders operating here, and that we’re not just watching the Phantom’s men riding pointlessly back and forth all the time after all. (The Phantom’s men are known locally as “the Night-Riders”, even though they invariably operate in broad daylight; and while they spend all of their considerable spare time between criminal enterprises camped just outside of town, no-one makes the slightest attempt to, you know, arrest them or anything.) The best thing about The Phantom Of The West is Dorothy Gulliver’s Mona Cortez, who is a likeably spunky heroine – even if they do have her go into an improbably protracted “faint” whenever it is convenient. Serials work best with an active heroine, and the scenario of a girl trying to clear her father’s name seems to work best of all: she’s allowed a lot more freedom of action than most of her sisters, even to the extent of occasionally thwarting the hero. The Phantom Of The West was widely advertised at the time of its release as “an all-talking serial”, but that’s a mixed blessing at best. This serial is afflicted with an Odious Comic Relief in the form of Tom Dugan’s Oscar, who – merciful heavens, spare us! – stutters. Good God, did anyone ever think that was actually funny!? If so, I’ve got the cure for them right here. They tone it down a bit in the later episodes, thankfully, but early on there’s a sequence of, I swear, five straight minutes of Oscar “comically” stuttering to himself. While this serial may be “all-talking”, most of the action scenes here were clearly shot without sound, and many of them play that way. The exception is a fight between two horses, which is dubbed over with hilariously fake horsey noises – “Whhee-hhee-hhee-hhee-hhee!!” – and unless I’m very much mistaken, the person responsible for this dubious voice work was Dorothy Gulliver. I hope they gave her a bonus.

The Prisoner Of Shark Island (1936)

John Ford’s account of the trial, imprisonment and eventual redemption of Dr Samuel A. Mudd (Warner Baxter) for his supposed involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is fine drama but probably poor history. This version of the story presents Mudd as an innocent bystander, who unknowingly treats John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg and then finds himself a victim of the bloody scapegoating that followed the assassination and the killing of Booth two weeks later. This white-washing of Mudd – who certainly knew Booth, and who certainly lied to the investigators – places The Prisoner Of Shark Island amongst a curious subset of American films that, while paying lip-service to those theoretical ideals we all hear so much about, seems to have surprisingly little faith in them in practice. (Rail-roading and vigilantism are only really wrong, these films seem to imply, if the person on the receiving end is really innocent.) But be Mudd’s innocence or guilt what it was, the section of this film dealing with the operation of the Military Commission and the execution of Mudd’s alleged fellow conspirators is absolutely chilling. (Prior to the trial, the Secretary of War instructs the commissioners not to let their judgement be troubled by “trifling technicalities of law” or “pedantic regard for the rules of evidence”, and not to be swayed by “that obnoxious creation of legal nonsense”, reasonable doubt.) Escaping execution by a single vote, Mudd is exiled to Fort Jefferson in the Florida Keys, the “Shark Island” of the title. The film then follows him through his imprisonment, his persecution by one of the garrison, his attempted escape and solitary confinement, and finally his pardoning due to his conduct during the yellow fever epidemic that swept the island prison. Warner Baxter is fine as Mudd, who he depicts as well-meaning but possibly a little dim, and Gloria Stuart lends good support as Mudd’s loyal wife. The film is completely stolen, however, by John Carradine, who is nothing short of terrifying as Sergeant Rankin, who dedicates himself to making Mudd’s imprisonment as miserable as possible. (The film is perhaps a little unjust to Rankin, never making it quite clear that he was fanatically devoted to Lincoln, and not just a random sadist. In any case, the character’s late film volte-face is entirely unconvincing.) Harry Carey, the star of a string of John Ford-helmed silent westerns, plays the Fort Jefferson C.O. in his only sound performance for the director. Francis Ford also appears.

Project: Kill (1976)

Girdler! Nielsen! Lockwood! Kwan! Diaz! My friends, I do believe I have reached the point where I can say without irony, Don’t you miss the seventies? This first collaboration between long-time buddies William Girdler and Leslie Nielsen sees the latter cast as John Trevor, the head of a covert government operation that, between training and drugs, churns out robotic killers, ostensibly as body-guards, but in fact, as Trevor belatedly accepts, as assassins. Unable to take any more, Trevor threatens to blow the lid on the operation and then flees to Manila, hoping that some old friends, also government operation casualties, will be able to help him avoid his manifest destiny. Meanwhile, Trevor’s second-in-command, Frank Lassiter (Gary Lockwood), is ordered to stop him – one way or the other. Project: Kill is a painfully uneven effort that never quite reaches the heights of hilarity that we might have expected, given its premise and its Leslie-Nielsen-dead-straight component. Still, it has its moments, and in that inimitable seventies way, it reeks of paranoia and cynicism. The combined clumsiness of the screenplay and some of the performances is both the film’s nemesis and its saving grace. Flubbed lines abound, most deliriously, Leslie Nielsen’s early film declaration that his students will learn to make a deadly weapon out of anything, “from toenail-clippings to a briefcase”. No, really: I listened twice, and he definitely says –ings, not –ers. Co-star Gary Lockwood does in fact beat somebody up with a briefcase later on but, alas, the film never makes good on the other half of that implicit promise. (Cue mental images of Monty Python's "Self-Defence Against Fresh Fruit" sketch.) Flanked by the Filipino police, who are fed a line of bull about stolen treasury plates to secure their co-operation, and some supposedly Chinese mobsters, who want the secret of the drugs that the US government uses to produce its killers, Trevor and Lassiter close in on one another, each leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. The film’s climax is their inevitable showdown. One can only gaze in awe at a film that dares to cast a couple of pudgy white guys as the world’s deadliest hands-on killers; but when those pudgy white guys, clad in the height of seventies anti-fashion, face off in the slowest, most awkwardly staged kung fu fight imaginable, well, it’s a sight to make the heart soar. For what it’s worth, Nielsen was in better shape than Lockwood, although both men have prominent love-handles. Lockwood also comes accessorised by what looks like history’s worst toupee, but given that he punctuates any dramatic declaration or action by violently flipping his hair back, I guess it can’t have been. Nancy Kwan, one of this film’s pre-production selling points, is pretty much wasted as the woman who embarks on a doomed love affair with Trevor. The head of the, ahem, Chinese mob is played by Vic Diaz – obviously. There was a statute on the books at that time making it illegal to produce any film in the Philippines without casting Vic Diaz, wasn’t there? Intended for an international cinema release, Project: Kill went missing-in-action for many years after its intended distributor became the victim of a mob-style hit.

Prom Night (1980)

One of the inadvertent consequences of the current noxious trend of PG-rated slasher movies is that films like Prom Night, which twenty years ago was an irredeemable piece of trash, now looks like a perfectly respectable piece of film-making. As slasher movies go, though, this one is pretty weak tea. It starts well enough with the traditional trauma scene, in which Robin Hammond (Tammy Bourne) is accidentally killed during a children’s game turned nasty. The other parties involved swear eternal silence – and we know how well that always turns out, right? Six years later, as Alexander Hamilton High School prepares for its prom – an event that happens to coincide with the anniversary of Robin’s death – the guilty parties begin to receive threatening phone-calls.... After that opening sequence, it is a full hour until the film’s first kill – chiefly because its bare plot bones are swiped from Halloween, as well as its leading lady, and the pairing-up of a cop and a shrink, which here amounts to very little. Amusingly, however, Prom Night’s most egregious thieving is from Carrie: the prom (duh!), the high school bitch-princess plotting against the King and Queen, the involvement of the gym teacher.... Most of this is ultimately irrelevant, except as a setting. The film is overly discreet, one must say, in respect to both its violence and its nudity; and despite its hilariously matter-of-fact roll-out of a list of suspects – escaped maniac? check; creepy groundskeeper with power tool? check; suspicious hangers-on suffering various degrees of disgruntlement? check – the killer’s identity is never in much doubt. The film’s main pleasures are chiefly incidental to the action. Leslie Nielsen, top-billed as Principal Hammond, really has no more than a glorified cameo (and we know what that usually means in films like this....mwoo-ha-ha!); but we do get to see him tuxedo-ed and getting down on the dance-floor; and if that doesn’t float your boat, how about Jamie Lee Curtis in a hideously unflattering dress proving that She Is The Dancing Queen, opposite a partner in a prom suit with lapels to rival Homer Simpson’s? (Prom Night was released one month after Can’t Stop The Music; and if that monstrosity hadn’t dealt disco its death-blow, this certainly would have done. “Disco Madness”, indeed.) The film’s killings, with one exception, are neither explicit nor particularly memorable – although, granted, that one exception is a very big exception – and the the killer’s identity, while not unexpected, carries with it a genuine emotional resonance, particularly given the circumstances surrounding its revelation. Actually, Prom Night is more interesting on a dramatic level than it is as a slasher – how often can you say that? – and the most interesting thing about it is its approach to sex, particularly as the representative of a sub-genre often condemned, and sometimes justly, for a reactionary “have sex and die” attitude. What Prom Night delivers is something more realistic, and considerably more level-headed; something that, in this context, is probably deserving of a closer examination....and one day, might just get one.

Read El Santo’s review of Prom Night here.


ET AL. Main Index

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----tidied up 28/06/2014