The Ninth Configuration (1980, Warner Bros.)
Author of “The Exorcist”, William Peter Blatty analogy of a madhouse populated by war veterans. Everything changes when a new head of psychiatry enters: Col. Vincent “Killer” Kane (Stacy Keach.)
Is he who he says he is? Scott Wilson co-stars as Capt. Billy Cutshaw, an astronaut who has a complete nervous breakdown right before a moon launch. Kane must prove to him God exists through a miracle. Costars Ed Flanders (Col. Fell) and Jason Miller (Lt. Reno.) Films highlight: the biker bar confrontation that had audiences screaming with rage. Anti-climatic ending is beautifully rendered. Blatty tried for years to get this made with various stars (Charlton Heston, Kirk Douglas.) Won a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay. Original title was “Twinkle, Twinkle, Killer Kane”.
Spider Baby (1964, American General Pictures)
Weird comedy/horror film concerning the Merrye family; mental regressives who are homicidal.
Stars Jill Banner as Virginia. (Her best role. Died at the age of 35 in a tragic car accident.)
Co-stars Beverly Washburn as Elizabeth, Sid Haig as Ralph and Lon Cheney Jr. as “Bruno” their chauffeur and guardian. Cheney, known for his role in “The Wolfman” (1941), looks dissipated, but manages to bring it all together in a poignant scene that brings Miss Washburn to tears. Dark-humored farce is not for all tastes. “Spider Baby” has gained a cult following throughout the years. A new slightly, longer version is available on a “Special Edition” DVD.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977, Allied Artists)
Domestic terrorists take control of a nuclear launching site, threatening to star WWIII, unless the President admits the Vietnam war was fought for no reason. I don’t agree with the politics of this picture; however, it’s worth seeing for its exciting story, acting, and score by Jerry Goldsmith. Stars Burt Lancaster, Paul Winfield, Burt Young, Charles Durning, Richard Widmark, Joseph Cotton and Melvyn Douglas. Directed with gusto by Robert Aldrich.
Dementia aka Daughter of Horror (1955, HPK Productions)
Gritty little nightmare of a woman (Adrienne Barrett) driven to psychosis and murder. Arty, low-budget, black and white. Unusual (to say the least) for its time. Barely seen – has a small following. Originally titled “Dementia”. Didn’t pass the censors, so four scenes were cut and the title was changed to “Daughter of Horror”. Most famously seen briefly in “The Blob” (the theater scene.) Over the top narration is provided by Ed McMahon.
Twisted Nerve (1968, British Lion Film Corp.)
Banned from network-TV broadcast for its alleged conclusion that Down’s Syndrome may lead to criminal or violent behavior. (Denied by the filmmakers.)
Hywel Bennett stars as a pampered mama’s boy who also happen to be a psychotic killer posing a helpless retard. Trouble follows when he fancies a sexy, young Brit (Hayley Mills.) Costars Billie Whitelaw (known later for her role in “The Omen”) and Barry Foster (“Frenzy”.) Both Bennett and Mills previously starred in “The Family Way” (1966), which bares little resemblance to this intense, psychosexual thriller.
Sweeny Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007, Warner Bros.)
The bloodiest musical you’ll ever see. Stars an Oscar-nominated Johnny Depp in the title role and Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett (robbed of a nomination.) Supposedly based on the true story of a barber and his female accomplice who sell meat-pies with a secret ingredient: people! The real star of the show is songwriter Stephen Sondheim. His music is magnificently orchestrated. Tim Burton’s best film since “Batman” (1989) – stunning visuals.
This is Elvis (1981, Warner Bros.)
Part documentary, part recreation of the life of singer-actor Elvis Presley. Excellent overview for Elvis fans or for those interested in the history of rock ‘n roll. Contains clips from the 1950’s (raw Elvis), 1960’s (movie star Elvis) and the 1970’s (Vegas Elvis.)
Catfish (2010, Universal)
How much do you know about someone you meet on the Internet? The documentary “Catfish” answers the question. Young man (“Nev” Schulman) exchanges correspondence with a hot, young chick, then slowly discovers she isn’t who she claims to be. Disturbing look at how identities can be manipulated.
See the Man Run (1971, ABC)
TV-movie about a has-been actor (Robert Culp) and his wife (Angie Dickenson) caught up in a kidnapping plot. Great role for Culp. Genuine excitement and suspense. Twist ending. Available on YouTube.
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1966, AIP)
I wish I had such a machine. Mad Doctor Goldfoot (Vincent Price) releases beautiful robot women for nefarious reasons. Satire on spy movies with AIP’s bikini starlets thrown in. Susan Hart never looked better.
Frankie Avalon costars. Title song sung by Diana Ross and the Supremes. A sequel followed titled: “Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs” (1967.)
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