Sunday Matinee: The Narrow Margin

Continuing January’s movies on train theme (which wasn’t original planned it just sort of happened) today’s Sunday Matinee is the excellent 1952 crime thriller/film noir The Narrow Margin.

Det. Sgt. Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) is assigned to escort a late mob boss’ wife by train from Chicago to L.A. so she can testify to the Grand Jury in a case. The widow Mrs. Frankie Neall (Marie Windsor) is attacked before they get to the train and Brown’s partner is killed. The hitman Densel (Peter Virgo) escapes. Brown is ticked but continues with the job. On the train he meets the lovely Ann Sinclair (Jacqueline White) and her son. Meanwhile two more assassins have boarded the train and looking to finish the job.
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Sadako v Kayako: It’s Not Easy Being a Ghoul

It’s ghost versus ghoul in this Japanese monster mash.

Given the outcome of other “versus” films (Freddy vs Jason, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), the idea of pitting two icons of Japanese horror felt equal parts enticing and worrisome. Sadako from The Ring and Kayako from The Grudge are physically similar, not particularly expressive and don’t seem to share the same universe: One is a ghost, the other is a ghoul. Nuances, people.

Sadako v Kayako pulls it off. Instead of concentrating on the black haired spooks, the film uses two naïve school girls as audience’s surrogates. One of them watches the fateful Ring tape that all but guarantees her death, a mishap that sends the pair on a quest that gets the other J-Horror mainstay involved. The film has a sense of humor about itself (the idea of someone still using VHS tapes gets a lot of tracking, same as the uselessness of the experts who claim to know how the gruesome twosome operates), but remains firmly within the genre’s realm. Continue reading “Sadako v Kayako: It’s Not Easy Being a Ghoul”

Sunday Matinee: Train To Busan

I’m always interested in seeing other countries and cultures take on more American pop culture. The current zombie genre was first started way back with George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead but it seen spread to other countries. Train to Busan is a South Korean horror/thriller from animation director Sang-ho Yeon.

This is Sang-ho Yeon’s first live action movie, his previous two were both animated features the excellent King of Pigs and The Fake.
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Sunday Matinee: William Peter Blatty

Writer William Peter Blatty passed away on January 12 this year at the age of 89. Blatty’s biggest acclaim was his novel and the subsequent movie adaptation The Exorcist.

Before Blatty became successful with The Exorcist he started out writing comedic novels John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1963),I, Billy Shakespeare (1965) and Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane (1966). Blatty also starting writing screenplays. His first The Man from the Diners’ Club starred Danny Kaye would lead him to working with writer/director Blake Edwards.
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Sunday Matinee: The Bullet Train

This might sound familiar. Tetsuo Okita (Ken Takakura) is desperate for money and has teamed up with an activist Masaru Koga (Kei Yamamoto) and a former employee and has planted a bomb on a bullet train that will go off if the train slows down below 80 km/h.

The Bullet Train was made in 1975 and yes has a plot that “inspired” the 1994 movie Speed or as Homer Simpson called it “the bus that couldn’t slow down”.
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Sunday Matinee: The Quiet Earth

Happy New Year and welcome to the first Sunday Matinee of 2017. Let’s start the year off with the end of the world.

Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) wakes up to find that he can’t get any radio signals. Zac was working on a special energy project and soon discovers that there’s wreckage everywhere but there doesn’t seem to be any bodies. In fact there isn’t anybody around except him. Something has gone horribly wrong. Zac discovers that the second the project went online everyone on Earth has vanished except him.
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Sunday Matinee: Lost Horizon

One of the 25 films that were added to the National Film Registry this year is Frank Capra’s 1937 movie Lost Horizon. Lost Horizon was based on a novel by James Hilton. It’s starts in China in 1935 where a revolution is taking place. Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) is a diplomat who tries to save 90 British citizens from the revolution. He then flees on the last plane with his George (John Howard), paleontologist Alexander Lovett (Edward Everett Horton), industrialist Henry Barnard (Thomas Mitchell) and the sickly Gloria Stone (Isabel Jewell). Their plane is hijacked and then crashes in the Himalayan Mountains.

From there the group discover a hidden city in the mountains called Shanghai-La. It’s a beautiful place and it seems to make the dying Gloria better. Robert meets the lovely Sondra (Jane Wyatt) and his brother meets the equally lovely Maria (Margo). It’s revealed that the city is over two hundred years old and was founded by Belgian priest named Father Perrault. It’s also revealed that the group have been kidnapped and brought to the city. George is furious. When Robert and George confront their guide he takes Robert to see the High Lama (Sam Jaffe).
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REVIEW: Rogue One Is the Best Kind of Outlier

Jyn Erso, the hero we deserve.

While the return of the Star Wars franchise in the form of The Force Awakens was wholeheartedly welcomed, Chapter VII raised a few red flags. The similitudes with A New Hope were numerous and conspicuous, enough to encourage the perception that the new trilogy may end up being a remix of the original one.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story benefits from this brewing problem by delivering the most original tale of the Rebellion since Jedi. Sure, the structure is videogame-like and the plot contrivances can be more exasperating than exciting, but the characters are edgier and their interactions are a lot spikier than what we have become used to. Continue reading “REVIEW: Rogue One Is the Best Kind of Outlier”

Sunday Matinee: The Asphalt Jungle

Doc Erwin Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe) has just gotten out of prison and already has a master plan for his next heist. Doc goes sees bookie Cobby (Marc Lawrence) and Cobby introduces Doc to high priced lawyer Alonzo Emmerich (Louis Calhern) who has been dabbling in other activities on the side.

Doc needs some money in advance, $50,000 to be precise to hire three men to help pull off a million dollar jewelry heist. Emmerich agrees to give Doc the money for a piece of the action but instead of using a fence for the jewels Emmerich insists on cutting out the middle man and letting him fence the loot.
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