Sunday Matinee: God Told Me To

Writer/director Larry Cohen passed away this weekend at the age of 77. Cohen started his career writing for television in the 1960s before moving on to directing movies in the 1970s.

He directed such blaxploitation films as Black Caesar and Hell Up in Harlem in the early 1970s before moving on to b-horror movies. In 1974 he made the excellent but cheesy It’s Alive. He would make two sequels to the series. He also directed the very entertaining Q.
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Sunday Matinee: For All Mankind

This week’s movie of the week on The Criterion Channel is the 1989 documentary For All Mankind.

Directed by Al Reinert this doc looks at the Apollo progam and uses actually archival footage that NASA shot during the time and interviews with the astronauts and crew who participated in the program.
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Sunday Matinee: Wanda

This week’s Criterion Collection streaming film is the 1970 film from writer/director/star Barbara Loden, Wanda.

Loden was an actress who worked in TV and film in the 1950s and 1960s. She was a cast regular on The Ernie Kovacs Show in 1956 and she starred in director Elia Kazan’s 1960 film Wild River and 1961’s Splendor in the Grass. She married Kazan in 1967 and while on vacation a mutual friend, Harry Schuster, offered Loden $100,000 to make her own movie. She wrote the script and couldn’t find a director including her own husband so she directed the film herself as well as starring in it. She made the film for $115,000 and while the movie did receive praise and it won Best Foreign Film at the Venice Film Festival in 1970, it was never given a wide theatrical release in North America.
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Sunday Matinee: Stalker

The Criterion Collection is going to launch their own streaming service in April to take the place of FilmStruck. Charter members who signed up early have been treated to a free movie every week since the start of February. The first week it was Elaine May’s Mickey and Nicky. Week two saw Chungking Express. Week three was Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Tom Jones. This week’s movie is Andrei Tarkovsky’s brilliant masterpiece Stalker.

Loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky this 1979 Soviet film is set in a future where something called the Zone has been created. The military have forbidden travel into the Zone but there are specialists called Stalkers who lead people into the Zone. They also collect special artifacts from the Zone and sell them on the black market.
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Sunday Matinee: Godzilla: The Planet Eater

In the final film of the series our “hero” Haruo finds himself on trial from the remaining Bilusaludo for killing MechaGodzilla city and thus killing all the Bilusaludo who merged with the nanometal in the last film. This act also essentially killed Haruo’s girlfriend Yuko who was partially merrged with the nanometal and has now been left brain dead. The remaining humans disagree with the trial saying that Haruo’s actions exposed the Bilusaludo’s intent to assimilate the Earth.

Meanwhile Haruo starts a relationship with Maina. He also discovers that the Exif, Methphies wants to bring the Exifs god to Earth to defeat Godzilla. Methphies starts converting the surviving humans into a cult worshiping his god. The Exif on the Aratrum (the spaceship carrying the last remaining humans) also begin gathering followers.
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Sunday Matinee: Godzilla: City On The Edge Of Battle

The second film in the Godzilla anime movie trilogy, City on the Edge of Battle picks up right where Planet of Monsters left off. Quick recap. Godzilla has taken over Earth and the remaining members of the human race have fled the planet along with two alien races, the Exif and the Bilusaludo, on a spaceship called the Aratrum. Now they have returned and find that thousands of years have passed and the Earth has evolved because of Godzilla. A small group lead by Haruo Sakaki tried to kill Godzilla. Having believed to have killed Godzilla the group discovers that all they did was kill a baby Godzilla, the real Godzilla has grown much much bigger and is even harder to kill.

Haruo was injured in the attack against the real Godzilla and he wakes up in a hut. Humans have survived on Earth and become more primitive. A young woman named Miana saved Haruo. Miana’s twin sister Maina doesn’t like Haruo much but the two sisters use telepathy to talk to the survivors to find out what’s going on.
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Sunday Matinee: Godzilla: Planet Of The Monsters

I have watched a lot of Godzilla movies, just about all of them. With the exception of one or two I have seen most of the 35 films featuring Godzilla.

A couple of years ago Toho Studios decided to make an animated movie trilogy. These films are more futuristic sci-fi films than the previous Godzilla movies. Set in a world where humans have been chased off of Earth by Godzilla they have been travelling through space with two alien races, the Exif and the Bilusaludo. The aliens helped what was left of humans to escape and they have been traveling to a new planet for 20 years.
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Sunday Matinee: Sisters

Director Brian De Palma had been making movies for several years, mostly dramas before he shifted gears and focusing on thriller/horror movies starting with 1972’s Sisters.

Sisters stars a young Margot Kidder as a French-Canadian model/actress who is trying to make it in New York City. She stars in a peeping tom talk show and goes out for supper with the other actor Phillip Woode (Lisle Wilson) who won dinner for two for his participation in the show. A creepy man shows up at the restaurant and demands that Kidder come home. Kidder claims the man is her ex-husband. The man, Dr. Emil Breton (William Finley) claims that he is her husband. He’s escorted out of the restaurant. Afterwards Philip and Kidder go to Kidder’s apartment where they spend the night.
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Sunday Matinee: The Baby

Social worker Ann Gentry (Anjanette Comer) has a new case. The Wadsworth family. Mrs. Wadsworth (Ruth Roman) has two grown daughters Germaine Wadsworth (Marianna Hill) and Alba Wadsworth (Suzanne Zenor) who live with her and her mentally disabled son Baby (David Mooney).

Baby is a grown man in his 20s but lives and is treated as an infant ever since his father left after he was born. The Wadsworth all live off of Baby’s disability cheques and none of them work. Ann seems to be obsessed with the case and constantly is checking in on the household and how Mrs. Wadsworth and her daughters treat Baby.
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Sunday Matinee: The Satanic Rites Of Dracula

I have watched a lot of Hammer horror films over the years and in particular I have watched a lot of their Dracula films. Hammer made nine Dracula films in total and Christopher Lee only starred in seven of them.

The five that Lee starred in weren’t too bad. Some of them were better than others but overall the Dracula films weren’t as good as Hammer’s Frankenstein films. Today’s Sunday Matinee is Lee’s last Dracula film, 1973’s The Satanic Rites of Dracula.

All the Hammer Dracula movies were gothic period pictures until the 1970s when they foolishly decided to update the series with Dracula A.D. 1972. Peter Cushing returned as Van Helsing for the first time since the second film The Brides of Dracula which didn’t have Dracula in it at all. Dracula A.D. 1972 starts off with Dracula and Van Helsing fighting to the death on carriage which crashes and kills them both. A servant of Dracula buries some of his ashes near Van Helsing’s grave. 100 years later Van Helsing’s descendant and his granddaughter (Stephanie Beacham) are living in London. Van Helsing’s daughter hangs out with a group hippies, one who is Dracula’s servant’s descendant and they have a Satanic ritual that resurrects the Count into the 1970’s. Dracula makes some vampires. The police get involved and we find out that vampires can’t take a shower. Clean flowing water kills them. Yup. Vampires have to take baths. Eventually Van Helsing stakes Dracula in a final battle…again.

That leads us to The Satanic Rites of Dracula which takes place two years after Dracula A.D. 1972. MI5 has been spying on a Satanic cult that has several powerful members of Parliament. Their agent has been captured and tortured but he escapes and informs his superiors just before he dies. MI5 finds out that their boss is involved with the cult and decide to investigate off the books using Scotland Yard. Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) returns (he was the cop Dracula A.D. 1972) and suggests bringing in Van Helsing and his daughter (now played by Joanna Lumley). Van Helsing goes to talk to one of the members of the cult that he knows to be a prominent and Noble Prize wining scientist (Freddie Jones). The scientist has created a new super version of the bubonic plague. Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is back and running an evil corporation and the cult and intends to destroy the world.

The final fight is pretty weak and while Cushing would return one more time as Van Helsing, Lee was done with Dracula with this film. It’s not as terrible as the previous film, at times it’s pretty entertaining and Warner Archive has just released the movie on blu-ray.

Sunday Matinee: The Cheap Detective

After the success of Murder By Death writer Neil Simon and director Robert Moore would reteam for another comedy spoof this time focusing on the gritting film noir crime films starring Humphrey Bogart. Peter Falk would return playing a Sam Spade like character this time caught up trying to solve his partner’s murder while getting entangled in a Maltese Falcon like caper.
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Sunday Matinee: Murder By Death

An old mansion in the country is getting ready for some guests for a special night. What makes the night so special is that there is going to be a murder and the guests are the greatest detectives in the world.

Written by Neil Simon and directed by Robert Moore this comedy pokes fun at the classic detective mystery. From the opening credits drawn by Charles Addams (whose art is also the movie poster) the film has a macabre but fun sense of humour. The blind butler Alec Guinness tries to get things ready for the guests while dealing with a deaf mute cook, Nancy Walker. Soon the guests start to arrive.
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Sunday Matinee: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Spider-Man has a long history of being an animated cartoon starting from 1967. He reappeared in a 1981 cartoon series called Spider-Man and at the same in another series called Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. Spidey would then have a long running series in the 1990s called Spider-Man followed by a short lived series called Spider-Man: The New Animated Series in 2003 which followed the continuity of the 2002 live action film.

In 2008 The Spectacular Spider-Man aired which was replaced with Ultimate Spider-Man in 2012. The current animated series, just called Spider-Man started 2017 and is still on the air. Phew that’s a lot of Spider-Man.

Which leads to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. This is a fantastic movie. It’s amazingly animated, the story is full of heart and humour and it’s the best Spider-Man movie.
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Sunday Matinee: Spider-Man

Everyone’s favourite neighbourhood webslinger is back in theatres this week with an animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Marvel Comics has been dominating movie screens for almost two decades now but considering that Marvel has been around for 79 years or so it has taken a very long time for Marvel to get their superheroes to the big screen. Spider-Man, who debuted in the comics in 1962, made it on to TV in the form of a cartoon in 1967. The shows theme song is still remembered today and while the animation was extremely limited the show is entertaining.
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Sunday Matinee: 2001: A Space Odyssey

I have previously covered 2001: A Space Odyssey for Sunday Matinee but with movie opening at the Kramer IMAX theatre for the month and having watched it there I had to revisit it.

The movie is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and what a way to celebrate the movie. I love this movie. It’s brilliant and amazing and it has to be seen on the big screen. Shot in Super Panavision 70 the movie was made to be seen on the big screen. And it looks phenomenal.
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Sunday Matinee: Performance

Nicolas Roeg passed away this weekend at the age of 90. I’ve covered a couple of his films over the years like Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell to Earth and Bad Timing. Today I’m looking at his first film 1970’s Performance.

Roeg worked as a cinematographer for most of the 1960s and he was brought on to Performance again for his cinematography skills. First time director Donald Cammell was Roeg’s co-director. Cammell would go on to direct Demon Seed while Roeg would go to direct some brilliant movies throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
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Sunday Matinee: Stan Lee

Stan Lee passed away at the age of 95 on November 12. Stan Lee for many was the man who created Marvel Comics – which he did with a lot of help from co-creators Jack Kirby and Steve Dikto (who also sadly passed away earlier this year).

When superhero comics first appeared in the late 1930s they took the world by storm but by the 1950s the genre was almost dead – only DC Comics were keeping the genre alive. Stan Lee started working for Timely Comics in 1939 for owner Martin Goodman as an office assistant. He would soon start writing back up stories for comics, he took the pen Stan Lee (his real name was Stanley Lieber) because he wanted to be a real writer and comics were looked down on.
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Sunday Matinee: Trilogy Of Terror

Original aired on the ABC channel in 1975 as the Movie of the Week, this little horror anthology from director Dan Curtis (Night Stalker) features three stories all from acclaimed writer Richard Matheson (I am Legend).

Unlike other anthology films there is nothing connecting the individual stories other than Karen Black stars in all of them as the various lead characters.
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Sunday Matinee: 10 Years of Fear Wrap Up

Another 31 Days of Horror has come and gone and while I was doing a best of / my favourite list – I missed so many more films that I wanted to mention.

In fact I didn’t really list anything from more recent years or some of the bigger classics. There is just too many awesome movies from last 100 years of cinema to squeeze into a mere 31 days. Anyway here is a few more movies that are awesome too!
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Sunday Matinee: Pan’s Labyrinth

Tomorrow is October 1st and I will begin another month of 31 Days of Horror. During the month of October there will be no Sunday Matinees but they will begin again in November. As I’m on a bit of Guillermo del Toro kick today’s Sunday Matinee is El laberinto del fauno aka Pan’s Labyrinth.

Pan’s Labyrinth is set in the 1940s after the Spanish Civil War. Young Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) arrives at a small town with her very pregnant mother. Her new step-father is Captain Vidal (Sergi López) who is tasked with hunting down and executing rebels for the Franco regime. Ofelia loves fairy tales and finds a ancient stone labyrinth nearby but is stopped from going in by the housekeeper.
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