Film Review – THE DEAD POOL (1988)

Image result for the dead pool 1988THE DEAD POOL (USA, 1988) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / Malpaso Productions; Release Date: 13 July 1988 (USA), 14 April 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 February – March 1988; Running Time: 91m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo (4 channels) | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Steve Sharon (based on a story by Steve Sharon, Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: David Valdes; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ron Spang; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Thomas L. Roysden; Costumes: Glenn Wright, Deborah Hopper; Make-up: Monty Westmore; Sound: Richard S. Church; Special Effects: Joe Day, Bob Finley III, Chuck Gaspar, Thomas Mertz, Bruce Robles.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Patricia Clarkson (Samantha Walker), Liam Neeson (Peter Swan), Evan C. Kim (Al Quan), David Hunt (Harlan Rook), Michael Currie (Captain Donnelly), Michael Goodwin (Lt. Ackerman), Darwin Gillett (Patrick Snow), Anthony Charnota (Lou Janero), Christopher P. Beale (D.A. Thomas McSherry), John Vick (Lt. Ruskowski), Jeff Richmond (Freeway Reporter #1), Patrick N. Van Horn (Freeway Reporter #2), Sigrid Wurschmidt (Freeway Reporter #3), Jim Carrey (Johnny Squares), Deborah A. Bryan (Girl in Rock Video), Nicholas Love (Jeff Howser), Maureen McVerry (Vicky Owens), John X. Heart (Samantha’s Cameraman), Victoria Bastel (Suzanne Dayton), Kathleen Turco-Lyon (Officer at Trailer), Michael Faqir (Sergeant at Trailer), Ronnie Claire Edwards (Molly Fisher), Wallace Choy (Chinese Store Manager), Melodie Soe (Chinese Restaurant Hostess), Kristopher Logan (Gunman #1), Scott Vance (Gunman #2), Glenn Wright (Detective Hindmark), Stu Klitsner (Minister), Karen Kahn (T.V. Associate Producer), Shawn Elliott (Chester Docksteder), Ren Reynolds (Perry), Ed Hodson (Paramedic at Elevator), Edward Hocking (Warden Hocking), Diego Chairs (Butcher Hicks), Patrick Valentino (Pirate Captain), Calvin Jones (Pirate Tug Reporter #1), Melissa Martin (Pirate Tug Reporter #2), Phil Dacey (Detective Dacey), Louis Giambalvo (Gus Wheeler), Peter Anthony Jacobs (Sgt. Holloway), Bill Wattenburg (Nolan Kennard), Hugh McCann (Young Man on Talkshow), Suzanne Sterling (Young Woman on Talkshow), Lloyd Nelson (Sgt. Waldman), Charles Martinet (Police Station Reporter #1), Taylor Gilbert (Police Station Reporter #2), George Orrison (Embarcadero Bodyguard #1), Marc Alaimo (Embarcadero Bodyguard #2), Justin Whalin (Jason), Kris LeFan (Carl), Katie Bruce (Girl on Sidewalk), Harry Demopoulos (Doctor in Hospital Room), John Frederick Jones (Dr. Friedman), Martin Ganapoler (Reporter at Pier).
      Synopsis: Dirty Harry Callahan must stop a sick secret contest to murder local celebrities, which includes himself as a target.
      Comment: Fifth and final DIRTY HARRY movie is an outlandish but watchable thriller coasting on Eastwood’s star presence. The plot is far-fetched, including a great set-piece with a toy car carrying a bomb. Clarkson is a reporter out to get the story who falls in with Eastwood.  Carrey grabs attention as a junkie rock star, whilst Neeson is seen in an early role as a self-obsessed film director. It all adds up to a comic book action thriller, but a diverting time for undemanding viewers.
      Notes: Song: “Welcome to the Jungle,” written by Slash, W. Axl Rose, Steven Adler, Izzy Stradlin and Duff Rose McKageh, performed by Guns N’ Roses, courtesy of Geffen Records, by arrangement with Warner Special Products.

Film Review – HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986)

Image result for heartbreak ridge 1986HEARTBREAK RIDGE (USA, 1986) ***½
      Distributor: Warner Bros.; Production Company: The Malpaso Company/ Jay Weston Productions; Release Date: 5 December 1986 (USA), 9 January 1987 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 June 1986 – 25 July 1986; Running Time: 130m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo; Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 5384); Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: James Carabatsos; Executive Producer: Fritz Manes; Producer: Clint Eastwood; Director of Photography: Jack N. Green; Music Composer: Lennie Niehaus; Film Editor: Joel Cox; Casting Director: Phyllis Huffman; Production Designer: Edward C. Carfagno; Set Decorator: Robert R. Benton; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: E. Thomas Case; Sound: Bill Nelson; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Gunnery Sergent Thomas Highway), Marsha Mason (Aggie), Everett McGill (Major Malcolm Powers), Moses Gunn (Staff Sgt. Webster), Eileen Heckart (Little Mary), Bo Svenson (Roy Jennings), Boyd Gaines (Lieutenant Ring), Mario Van Peebles (Corporal Stitch Jones), Arlen Dean Snyder (Sergeant Major Choozoo), Vincent Irizarry (Fragetti), Ramón Franco (Aponte (as Ramon), Tom Villard (Profile), Mike Gomez (Quinones), Rodney Hill (Collins), Peter Koch (‘Swede’ Johanson), Richard Venture (Colonel Meyers), Peter Jason (Major Devin), J.C. Quinn (Quartermaster Sgt.), Begonya Plaza (Mrs. Aponte), John Eames (Judge Zane), Thom Sharp (Emcee), John Gallagher (Emcee), John Hostetter (Reese), Holly Shelton-Foy (Sarita Dwayne), Nicholas Worth (Jail Binger), Timothy Fall (Kid in Jail), Jon Pennell (Jail Crier), Trish Garland (Woman Marine Officer), George Hartmann (Bar Tough Guy), Darwyn Swalve (Bar Tough Guy), Christopher Michael (Marine), Alex M. Bello (Marine), Steve Halsey (Bus Driver), John Sasse (Bus Driver), Rebecca Perle (Student in Shower), Annie O’Donnell (Telephone Operator), Elizabeth Ruscio (Waitress), Lloyd Nelson (Deputy), John H. Brewer (Sgt. Major in Court), Michael Maurer (Bouncer in Bar), Tom Ellison (Marine Corporal).
      Synopsis: A hard-nosed, hard-living Marine gunnery sergeant clashes with his superiors and his ex-wife as he takes command of a spoiled recon platoon with a bad attitude.
      Comment: Highly entertaining film coasts on Eastwood’s supremely charismatic performance whilst it ploughs a similar furrow as SANDS OF IWO JIMA, despite the stakes being lower. Eastwood’s tough-as-nails marine may be a caricature to some degree, but there is also a depth to the star’s performance that elevates the film above its derivative storyline. Van Peebles is a good foil for Eastwood and Mason gives a strong performance as the ex who lost out to the army. The film falters only in its two-dimensional characterisation of the Marine Corps brass.

Film Review – ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (1980)

Image result for any which way you canANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN (USA, 1980) **½
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-EMI-Warner (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company / Warner Bros. Pictures; Release Date: 17 December 1980 (USA), 18 December 1980 (UK); Filming Dates: 5 May – July 1980; Running Time: 116m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Buddy Van Horn; Writer: Stanford Sherman (based on characters created by Jeremy Joe Kronsberg); Executive Producer: Robert Daley; Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: David Worth; Music Supervisor: Snuff Garrett; Film Editor: Ron Spang, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Marion Dougherty (uncredited); Production Designer: William J. Creber; Set Decorator: Ernie Bishop; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar, Jeff Jarvis.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Philo Beddoe), Sondra Locke (Lynn Halsey-Taylor), Geoffrey Lewis (Orville), William Smith (Jack Wilson), Harry Guardino (James Beekman), Ruth Gordon (Ma), Michael Cavanaugh (Patrick Scarfe), Barry Corbin (Fat Zack), Roy Jenson (Moody), Bill McKinney (Dallas), William O’Connell (Elmo), John Quade (Cholla), Al Ruscio (Tony Paoli Sr.), Dan Vadis (Frank), Camila Ashland (Hattie), Beans Morocco (Baggage Man), Michael Brockman (Moustache Officer), Julie Brown (Candy), Glen Campbell (Glen Campbell), Richard Christie (Jackson Officer), Rebecca Clemons (Buxom Bess), Reid Cruickshanks (Bald Headed Trucker), Michael Currie (Wyoming Officer), Gary Lee Davis (Husky Officer), Dick Durock (Joe Casey), Michael Fairman (CHP Captain), James Gammon (Bartender), Weston Gavin (Beekman’s Butler), Lance Gordon (Biceps), Lynn Hallowell (Honey Bun), Peter Hobbs (Motel Clerk), Art LaFleur (Baggage Man #2), Ken Lerner (Tony Paoli Jr.), John McKinney (Officer), Robin Menken (Tall Woman), George Murdock (Sgt. Cooley), Jack Murdock (Little Melvin), Ann Nelson (Harriet), Sunshine Parker (Old Codger), Kent Perkins (Trucker), Anne Ramsey (Loretta Quince), Logan Ramsey (Luther Quince), Michael Reinbold (Officer with Glasses), Tessa Richarde (Sweet Sue), Jeremy Smith (Intern), Bill Sorrells (Bakersfield Officer), Jim Stafford (Long John), Michael Talbott (Officer Morgan), Mark L. Taylor (Desk Clerk), Jack Thibeau (Head Muscle), Charles Walker (Officer), Jerry Brutsche (Black Widow), Orwin C. Harvey (Black Widow), Larry Holt (Black Widow), John Nowak (Black Widow), Walter Robles (Black Widow), Mike Tillman (Black Widow).
      Synopsis: A bare-knuckle fighter decides to retire, but when the Mafia come along and arrange another fight, he is pushed into it. A motorcycle gang and an orangutan called Clyde all add to the ‘fun’.
      Comment: Sequel to 1978’s EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE is a more enjoyable movie. Amping up the comedy and removing some of the mean-spiritedness of the original, the result is an extremely lightweight but sometimes fun movie. Anyone looking for depth of character or development should look elsewhere. Those looking for broad laughs, slapstick and cartoon-like characters will likely find something to enjoy here. Eastwood seems more relaxed with the comedy and whilst Lewis and Locke are more marginalised, the role of Clyde is dialled up for comedic effect.
      Notes: Filmed in the California communities of Sun Valley, North Hollywood, and Bakersfield, and in Jackson, Wyoming.

Film Review – THE GAUNTLET (1977)

Image result for the gauntlet 1977THE GAUNTLET (USA, 1977) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 21 December 1977 (USA), 22 December 1977 (UK); Filming Dates: 4 April – June 1977; Running Time: 109m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: 4-Track Stereo; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack; Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: Fritz Manes; Director of Photography: Rexford L. Metz; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ferris Webster; Art Director: Allen E. Smith; Set Decorator: Ira Bates; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Don Schoenfeld; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Chuck Gaspar.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Ben Shockley), Sondra Locke (Gus Mally), Pat Hingle (Josephson), William Prince (Blakelock), Bill McKinney (Constable), Michael Cavanaugh (Feyderspiel), Carole Cook (Waitress), Mara Corday (Jail Matron), Doug McGrath (Bookie), Jeff Morris (Desk Sergeant), Samantha Doane (Biker), Roy Jenson (Biker), Dan Vadis (Biker), Carver Barnes (Bus Driver), Robert Barrett (Paramedic), Teddy Bear (Lieutenant), Mildred Brion (Old Lady on Bus), Ron Chapman (Veteran Cop), Don Circle (Bus Clerk), James W. Gavin (Helicopter Pilot), Thomas H. Friedkin (Helicopter Pilot), Darwin Lamb (Police Captain), Roger Lowe (Paramedic Driver), Fritz Manes (Helicopter Gunman), John Quiroga (Cab Driver), Josef Rainer (Rookie Cop), Art Rimdzius (Judge), Al Silvani (Police Sergeant).
      Synopsis: A hard but mediocre cop is assigned to escort a prostitute into custody from Las Vegas to Phoenix, so that she can testify in a mob trial. But a lot of people are literally betting that they won’t make it into town alive.
      Comment: Preposterous, ludicrous, but entertaining if taken in the right spirit and you are willing to condone its black humour as well as ignore the numerous plot holes. The movie must have set the record for the most gunshots on film. Eastwood and Locke make for a sparky team of misfits brought together by fate and a desire for the villains to remove them both from the scene. A long chase ensues with cartoon violent action sequences and barbed dialogue keeping things interesting. It’s hard not to smile at the absurdities or be impressed by Locke’s confident performance and Eastwood’s atypical dim-witted detective.
      Notes: The premise was reworked as the Bruce Willis vehicle 16 BLOCKS (2006).

Film Review – THE ENFORCER (1976)

Image result for the enforcer 1976THE ENFORCER (USA, 1976) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures / The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 22 December 1976 (USA), 26 December 1976 (UK); Filming Dates: 14 June — early September 1976; Running Time: 96m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono | Dolby Digital (5.1); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: James Fargo; Writer: Stirling Silliphant, Dean Riesner (based on a story by Gail Morgan Hickman & S.W. Schurr and characters created by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Charles W. Short; Music Composer: Jerry Fielding; Film Editor: Joel Cox, Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Mary Goldberg; Art Director: Allen E. Smith; Set Decorator: Ira Bates; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg; Special Effects: Joseph A. Unsinn.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Tyne Daly (Kate Moore), Harry Guardino (Lt. Bressler), Bradford Dillman (Capt. McKay), John Mitchum (DiGeorgio), DeVeren Bookwalter (Bobby Maxwell), John Crawford (The Mayor), Samantha Doane (Wanda), Bob Hoy (Buchinski), Jocelyn Jones (Miki), M.G. Kelly (Father John), Nick Pellegrino (Martin), Albert Popwell (Mustapha), Rudy Ramos (Mendez), Bill Ackridge (Andy), Bill Jelliffe (Johnny), Joe Bellan (Freddie the Fainter), Tim O’Neill (Police Sergeant), Jan Stratton (Mrs. Grey), Will MacMillan (Lt. Dobbs), Jerry Walter (Krause), Steve Eoff (Bustanoby), Tim Burrus (Henry Lee), Michael Cavanaugh (Lalo), Dick Durock (Karl), Ron Manning (Tex), Adele Proom (Irene DiGeorgio), Glenn Leigh Marshall (Army Sergeant), Robert Behling (Autopsy Surgeon), Terence McGovern (Disc Jockey), Stan Ritchie (Bridge Operator), John Roselius (Mayor’s Driver), Brian Fong (Scoutmaster), Art Rimdzius (Porno Director), Chuck Hicks (Huey), Anne Macey (Madam), Gloria Prince (Massage Girl), Kenneth Boyd (Abdul), Bernard Glin (Koblo), Fritz Manes (Detective #1).
      Synopsis: Dirty Harry must foil a terrorist organization made up of disgruntled Vietnam veterans. But this time, he’s teamed with a rookie female partner that he’s not too excited to be working with.
      Comment: Third DIRTY HARRY film turns its slender plot into a series of violent action set-pieces. Most of the fun is derived from the interplay between Eastwood and Daly, who is excellent in her first major role as Eastwood’s female partner. The teaming gives rise for Harry to display his prejudices and some of these scenes may play uncomfortably with modern audiences (as they did with Daly at the time). Over the course of the film, the partnership warms up and reaches it’s almost inevitable conclusion during a fine shootout finale on Alcatraz. Whilst it lacks the gravitas of the original this second sequel moves at a faster clip than MAGNUM FORCE. However, the direction is uneven, injecting elements of black humour and the potential to play stronger messages about idealism and feminism are largely glossed over. The result is a diverting, but strangely stilted star vehicle.
      Notes: Preceded by DIRTY HARRY (1971) and MAGNUM FORCE (1973) and followed by SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).

Film Review – THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (1974)

Image result for thunderbolt and lightfoot 1974THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT (USA, 1974) ***½
      Distributor: United Artists; Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 22 May 1974 (USA), 19 September 1974 (UK); Filming Dates: July – September 1973; Running Time: 115m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision (anamorphic); Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Michael Cimino; Writer: Michael Cimino; Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Patricia Mock; Art Director: Tambi Larsen; Set Decorator: James L. Berkey; Costumes: Jules Melillo; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: Bert Hallberg, Norman Webster; Special Effects: Sass Bedig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Thunderbolt), Jeff Bridges (Lightfoot), George Kennedy (Red Leary), Geoffrey Lewis (Eddie Goody), Catherine Bach (Melody), Gary Busey (Curly), Jack Dodson (Vault Manager), Eugene Elman (Tourist), Burton Gilliam (Welder), Roy Jenson (Dunlop), Claudia Lennear (Secretary), Bill McKinney (Crazy Driver), Vic Tayback (Mario Pinski), Dub Taylor (Station Attendant), Gregory Walcott (Used Car Salesman), Erica Hagen (Waitress), Alvin Childress (Janitor), Virginia Baker (Couple at Station), Stuart Nisbet (Couple at Station), Irene K. Cooper (Cashier), Cliff Emmich (The Fat Man), June Fairchild (Gloria), Ted Foulkes (Young Boy), Leslie Oliver (Teenager), Mark Montgomery (Teenager), Karen Lamm (Girl on Motorcycle), Luanne Roberts (Suburban Housewife), Lila Teigh (Tourist).
      Synopsis: With the help of an irreverent young sidekick, a bank robber gets his old gang back together to organise a daring new heist.
      Comment: Road movie turns into heist movie in this entertaining vehicle for Eastwood and Bridges. The plot is initially slight and the pace slow as we are introduced to the two misfit loners. Once Kennedy and Bridges enter the story the character interplay becomes the main focus and the pace quickens as the quartet take to work to raise money to fund their heist. The tone swings from comedy to melodrama to violent action but is generally well-handled by Cimino on his directorial debut. Bridges delivers a superb and believably natural performance and Eastwood generously gives him centre stage. Kennedy too stands out as Eastwood’s stubbornly proud ex-partner.
      Notes: Cimino modelled this movie after one of his favourite films, CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT (1955). Bridges was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.

Film Review – MAGNUM FORCE (1973)

Image result for magnum force 1973MAGNUM FORCE (USA, 1973) ***
      Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures (USA), Columbia-Warner Distributors (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 25 December 1973 (USA), 26 December 1973 (UK); Filming Dates: 24 April–late June 1973; Running Time: 124m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Ted Post; Writer: John Milius, Michael Cimino (based on a story by John Milius and original material by Harry Julian Fink and Rita M. Fink); Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Frank Stanley; Music Composer: Lalo Schifrin; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: Nessa Hyams (uncredited); Art Director: Jack T. Collis; Set Decorator: John Lamphear; Costumes: Glenn Wright; Make-up: Joe McKinney; Sound: James R. Alexander; Special Effects: Sass Bedig.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (Harry Callahan), Hal Holbrook (Lt. Briggs), Mitchell Ryan (McCoy), David Soul (Davis), Tim Matheson (Sweet), Kip Niven (Astrachan), Robert Urich (Grimes), Felton Perry (Early Smith), Maurice Argent (Nat Weinstein), Margaret Avery (Prostitute), Richard Devon (Ricca), Tony Giorgio (Palancio), Jack Kosslyn (Walter), Bob March (Estabrook), Bob McClurg (Cab Driver), John Mitchum (DiGiorgio), Russ Moro (Ricca’s Driver), Clifford A. Pellow (Guzman), Albert Popwell (Pimp), Christine White (Carol McCoy), Adele Yoshioka (Sunny).
      Synopsis: Eastwood’s Inspector Harry Callahan is on the trail of vigilante cops who are not above going beyond the law to kill the city’s undesirables.
      Comment: Sequel to DIRTY HARRY lacks the style and efficiency of the original, suffering from a sluggish pace at times. However, the set pieces are well-handled and Eastwood commands the screen in his signature role with much to enjoy in his verbal jousts with immediate superior Holbrook. Soul also makes an impression in an early career appearance as one of a group of four rookie cops, which also include Urich, Niven and Matheson. The story would have benefited from tighter editing – alterations and additions had been made to Milius’ original script adding some filler and unnecessary scenes. Schifrin’s memorable propulsive score riffs on his similar work on the first film.
      Notes: Suzanne Somers makes an uncredited appearance as one of the victims in the pool scene early in the film. Film debut of Urich. Second of five films in the series and followed by THE ENFORCER (1976), SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) and THE DEAD POOL (1988).

Film Review – THEY LIVE (1988)

Image result for they live 1988THEY LIVE (USA, 1988) ***
     Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Guild Film Distribution (UK); Production Company: Alive Films / Larry Franco Productions; Release Date: 4 November 1988 (USA), 23 June 1989 (UK); Filming Dates: March – April 1988; Running Time: 94m; Colour: DeLuxe; Sound Mix: Dolby Stereo (4 channels); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18 – strong violence, language.
     Director: John Carpenter; Writer: John Carpenter (as Frank Armitage) (based on the short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” by Ray Nelson); Executive Producer: Andre Blay, Shep Gordon; Producer: Larry Franco; Associate Producer: Sandy King; Director of Photography: Gary B. Kibbe; Music Composer: Alan Howarth, John Carpenter; Film Editor: Gib Jaffe, Frank E. Jimenez; Art Director: William J. Durrell Jr., Daniel A. Lomino; Set Decorator: Marvin March; Costumes: Robin Michel Bush; Make-up: Francisco X. Pérez; Sound: Jeffrey L. Sandler; Special Effects: Roy Arbogast.
     Cast: Roddy Piper (Nada), Keith David (Frank), Meg Foster (Holly), George ‘Buck’ Flower (Drifter), Peter Jason (Gilbert), Raymond St. Jacques (Street Preacher), Jason Robards III (Family Man), John Lawrence (Bearded Man), Susan Barnes (Brown Haired Woman), Sy Richardson (Black Revolutionary), Wendy Brainard (Family Man’s Daughter), Lucille Meredith (Female Interviewer), Susan Blanchard (Ingenue), Norman Alden (Foreman), Dana Bratton (Black Junkie), John F. Goff (Well Dressed Customer), Norm Wilson (Vendor), Thelma Lee (Rich Lady), Stratton Leopold (Depressed Human), Rezza Shan (Arab Clerk), Norman Howell (Blonde Haired Cop), Larry Franco (Neighbor), Tom Searle (Biker), Robert Grasmere (Scruffy Blonde Man), Vince Inneo (Passageway Guard), Bob Hudson (Passageway Guard #2), Jon Paul Jones (Manager), Dennis Cosmo Michael (Male News Anchor), Nancy Gee (Female News Anchor), Claudia Stanlee (Young Female Executive), Christine Anne Baur (Woman on Phone), Eileen Wesson (Pregnant Secretary), Gregory J. Barnett (Security Guard #1), Jimmy Nickerson (Security Guard #2), Kerry Rossall (2nd Unit Guard), Cibby Danyla (Naked Lady), Jeff Imada (Male Ghoul), Michelle Costello (Female Ghoul).
     Synopsis: A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.
     Comment: John Carpenter’s take on INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS taps into the cold war paranoia of the day of a US government led by Ronald Reagan. References to mass manipulation are woven into its action-packed narrative. Ex-wrestler Piper is cast in the lead role and whilst his acting is adequate at best, his physical attributes help the film’s many fight sequences. David, impressive in THE THING, co-stars as his sidekick. After a promising start, the film descends into a familiar violent shoot-em-up scenario. Moments of tongue-in-cheek humour help us to not take it too seriously.
     Notes: Because the screenplay was the product of so many sources—a short story, a comic book, and input from cast and crew—Carpenter decided to use the pseudonym “Frank Armitage”, an allusion to one of the filmmaker’s favorite writers, H. P. Lovecraft (Henry Armitage is a character in Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror)

Book Review – HUNTER’S GAMES (2014) by James P. Sumner

HUNTER’S GAMES (2014) ***½
by James P. Sumner
Published by OnlineBookServices.com, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-497-38699-0

BlurbAdrian Hell travels to San Francisco, commissioned to take out a government official who’s found himself on the wrong side of the wrong people. The job goes as planned, but before Adrian can leave the scene, he’s taken into custody by the FBI. Grace Chambers, a straight-talking special agent, asks him to help bring down a terrorist known as The Shark, who’s responsible for several recent attacks on the city. But things aren’t what they seem, and when the truth behind Adrian’s involvement is revealed, so too is the full extent of The Shark’s horrifying plans. Forced into a deadly game of cat and mouse, our unlikely hero goes bullet for bullet with an unseen enemy, as the fate of thousands of innocent people hangs in the balance. With time running out, and the body count rising, Adrian must do whatever it takes to stop his adversary before it’s too late.

James P. Sumner is a local author. When I say “local author” I mean local to me. He lives in Tottington, Bury. Hunter’s Games is the second novel in Sumner’s Adrian Hell series. Adrian is an ex-military black ops operative who now works as a hitman. He only takes out the really bad guys – those who deserve to be taken out. So, there’s an element here of moral questioning of Hell’s motives. Is he cleansing the world of the most vicious of criminals or is he in it for the money. There is actually backstory that signals his motivation and has left him with emotional scars. He covers these scars with a sticking plaster that presents itself in his personality as arrogant, self-confident, flippant, cynical and more than a little flamboyant. As a result, what could have been an annoying character, whose sarcastic wit and smart-alec remarks could have worn thin, actually grows on the reader as the novel progresses. Yes, the plot is derivative – Die Hard with a Vengeance meets James Bond meets Dirty Harry’s The Enforcer – but it zips along at a hell of a rate and is always entertaining. This could easily be seen as one of those Hollywood action thrillers starring a Liam Neeson-type macho male actor. Whilst I may have predicted some of the plot twists and rolled my eyes at the occasionally overly macho dialogue, I also smiled at the witty interplay between the characters. Sumner’s writing style, written in the present tense in order to heighten the tension, is engaging. He  is a self-published author who has demonstrated how you can be successful without the support of the traditional publishing industry and his enthusiasm for his material is mightily evident in the pages of this novel.

Film Review – SWEENEY 2 (1978)

Image result for sweeney 2 1978SWEENEY 2 (UK, 1978) ***
      Distributor: EMI Distribution; Production Company: Euston Films; Release Date: April 1978; Filming Dates: Novcmber 1977 – December 1977; Running Time: 104m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono; Film Format: 35mm; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Tom Clegg; Writer: Troy Kennedy-Martin (based on “The Sweeney” created by Ian Kennedy Martin); Executive Producer: Lloyd Shirley, George Taylor; Producer: Ted Childs; Associate Producer: ; Director of Photography: Dusty Miller; Music Composer: Tony Hatch; Film Editor: Chris Burt; Casting Director: Marilyn Johnson; Art Director: William Alexander; Costumes: David Murphy; Make-up: Eddie Knight; Sound: Derek Rye, Hugh Strain, Ian Toynton; Special Effects: Arthur Beavis.
      Cast: John Thaw (Det. Insp. Jack Regan), Dennis Waterman (Det. Sgt. George Carter), Denholm Elliott (Jupp), Ken Hutchison (Hill), Anna Gaël (Mrs. Hill), Barry Stanton (Big John), John Flanagan (Willard), David Casey (Goodyear), Derrick O’Connor (Llewellyn), John Alkin (Det. Sgt. Tom Daniels), James Warrior (Det. Con. Jellyneck), Guy Standeven (Logan – Bank Manager), Brian Gwaspari (White), Frederick Treves (McKyle), Johnny Shannon (Harry – Villain), Clifford Kershaw (Gloria’s Father), Toby Salaman (Doctor), Nigel Hawthorne (Dilke), Lewis Fiander (Gorran), Anna Nygh (Shirley Hicks), Michael J. Jackson (Soames), Lynn Dearth (Mrs. White), Fiona Mollison (Mrs. Haughton), Sarah Atkinson (Mrs. Mead), John Lyons (Mead), Brian Hall (Haughton), Matthew Scurfield (Jefferson), Gareth Milne (Bank Teller), Sebastian Witkin (Skateboarder), Hubert Rees (Bank Manager), George Innes (Pete Beale), Roddy McMillan (Collie), Michael O’Hagan (Doyle), Arthur Cox (Detective), Georgina Hale (Switchboard Girl), Patrick Malahide (Major Conway), Max Mason (SPG Constable), Frank Coda (Commissionaire), Yvon Doval (Mr. Mahmoun), Jim McManus (Barman), John Vine (PC), David Gillies (PC), Seretta Wilson (Girl), Diana Weston (Air Hostess), George Mikell (Superintendent), Marc Zuber (Andy), Joe Zammit-Cardona (Customs Official), Leon Lissek (Cardona Alexandros), Marilyn Finlay (School Teacher), Seymour Matthews (Harry – Fingerprint Man), Stefan Gryff (Nino), Michael Scholes (Boy in Bed), Danny Rae (Taxi Driver), Rosario Serrano (Mrs. Konstantikis), Eamonn Jones (Barman), Alan Ross (Fiddler).
      Synopsis: Second cinematic spin-off from the popular 70’s police series. Regan & Carter head a Flying Squad investigation into a series of bank raids by a team of well-armed villains who are flying in from the continent
      Comment: This follow-up to the first big-screen outing for Thaw and Waterman in SWEENEY! (1977) is a tough and violent story of the pursuit of a gang of bank robbers who are funding a residential development in Malta. The story stretches its running time and contains a lot of padding – including a bomb threat segment in a hotel that has no other reason to be in the story. That said it works slightly better than the first film as it is more closely linked to the style and characters of the TV series. Thaw and Waterman have established a strong rapport and there is a “fly-on-the-wall” documentary feel to the way the story is filmed, adding to the levels of authenticity. However, there is less in the way of character progression and the whole thing amounts to little more than an extended, albeit enjoyable, episode of the series.
      Notes: As seen through Denholm Elliott’s character, The Sweeney was not afraid to face the fact that there are such things as bent officers. The character was based on a real-life former head of the Flying Squad, who had been convicted at the Old Bailey on corruption charges in 1977.