Shitty Movie Sundays: Day the World Ended & In the Year 2889

What a pair of movies this turned out to be. Day the World Ended is an early Roger Corman flick from 1955, while In the Year 2889 is a made-for-TV remake from 1969 that used an almost identical script. Only the names were changed to protect the innocent.

Written by Lou Rusoff, that script tells the story of a small group that survives a nuclear apocalypse. World War Three has ravaged the world, silencing the cities of Earth and bathing the planet in radioactive fallout. But not in an isolated patch of rugged Southwestern landscape. Former Navy officer Jim Maddison (Paul Birch) has spent the last decade preparing for nuclear war. He has built his house nestled in between hills containing lead ore, which helps block radiation. Winds sweep through nearby canyons, creating a cushion of air that fallout can’t penetrate. I don’t know if any of this holds up to scientific scrutiny, but considering this is a 1950s sci-fi b-movie, I doubt it. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Day the World Ended & In the Year 2889″

October Horrorshow: The Eye (2002) & The Eye (2008)

I started out this review for a single film, and not two. But, about a half hour into watching The Eye (2008), I realized I couldn’t write a review without first watching The Eye (2002, original title Gin gwai), to see what the filmmakers of the newer version stole from the original. That’s because The Eye is not so much a remake of Gin gwai as it is another version. The only changes are on the surface.

Directed by the Pang Brothers (Danny and Oxide Chun), from a screenplay by the brothers and Yuet-Jan Hui, Gin gwai tells the story of Wong Kar Mun (Angelica Lee). When Mun was a toddler, an accident left her blinded. Now, as an adult, she undergoes cornea transplant surgery to restore her sight. Only, from the moment she first opens her eyes in a Hong Kong hospital, something isn’t right. There appears to be an extra person in the room when the bandages are removed. Her sight is very blurred, so she can’t make out more than a dark figure. It presages troubles to come. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Eye (2002) & The Eye (2008)”

Giant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)

The 1976 remake of King Kong might be peak Dino De Laurentiis. The legendary Italian producer’s films whipsaw back and forth between the grandiose, the absurd, the exploitative, and the just plain shitty. King Kong is a prime example.

Clocking in at an interminable 134 minutes, this King Kong is meant to be an epic retelling of a cinema classic. Everything about this film, directed by John Guillermin, seems meant to showcase how film has improved and grown in the forty years since the original film was released. The original King Kong was severely limited by what was possible at the time, yes, but it never felt like a failing. Nor is this film an indictment of what came before. But this film does live and die on an implied promise that it will be a better technical film than that which came before. Other than making money, there really isn’t much more reason for this film to exist. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)”

Empty Balcony: A Fistful of Dollars

I’ve been picking on Italian movies of late over in the Shitty Movie Sundays department. I can’t help it. I discovered Enzo G. Castellari recently and that opened the floodgates. Just about every week I find myself searching streaming services for another glorious train wreck from that most interesting of old world countries. It’s cinema devoid of shame, unapologetically opportunistic, and, to borrow a phrase from Tom Wolfe, gloriously low rent. Today’s film is not a cheap Italian knockoff designed to trick audiences into buying a ticket, though. Today’s film is a classic, even though its producers did find themselves on the wrong end of a plagiarism lawsuit. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: A Fistful of Dollars”

Empty Balcony: Rollerball (1975) & Rollerball (2002)

Alongside post-apocalyptic films, there exists another popular nihilistic genre of film — the dystopian tale. Civilization doesn’t have to have collapsed into a dense ball of suffering for the dystopian film to work. Rather, current mores and politics just need a little bit of tweaking and society becomes unrecognizable. Indeed, in some dystopian futures, it could be argued that humans are thriving. What is common in dystopian films is that some eroding of freedoms has occurred, brought on usually by technology, capitalism, communism, post-industrialism, or a conglomeration of every fear we have about the role of individuality in the future. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Rollerball (1975) & Rollerball (2002)”

October Horrorshow: Poltergeist (2015)

I remember being a child in the 1980s, and movies from the 1950s looked old. The people in them wore weird clothes, had strange haircuts, and drove ridiculous-looking cars. Everything was in black and white, too, making me think, probably up until I was in kindergarten, that the world used to be black and white, and sometime during my parents’ childhoods, all of a sudden it snapped into color. I vaguely remember asking them about that. Oh, the conclusions a child’s mind will come to absent any other information. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Poltergeist (2015)”

October Horrorshow: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)

You don’t see this often, but Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a remake of a TV movie from 1973. I’ve never seen the original, but apparently it has a decent reputation in the horror world. Anyway, it has enough of a good reputation that Guillermo del Toro decided to write and produce the remake (Matthew Robbins shared screenwriting credits). Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)”

The Empty Balcony: Total Recall (2012)

It’s no secret. Hollywood loves remakes. They love squeezing new cash out of old ideas. And why not? We’re a country that embraces the familiar. We find comfort in it. It’s this tendency of the public to seek out what it already knows that makes Applebee’s and the Olive Garden successful properties in Times Square. Who the hell would come all the way to New York City only to eat the same food they can get in Boise? Americans, that’s who. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Total Recall (2012)”