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Tag Archives: Vincent Price

Flick Clique: May 15-21

Wow, I haven’t posted anything here since my last Flick Clique — that’s unusual. I’ve been busy with work and a LitKids project that’s hit a snag, but in addition there hasn’t been too much inspiring stuff out there to share. Hopefully that situation will improve soon. On to the films!
Robocop (1987). I remember thinking this movie was a big kick back when it was new. Seeing it now, it seems like Paul Verhoeven was doing a dry run for the far more violent and subversively funny likes of Total Recall and Starship Troopers. I do think it’s funny how Peter Weller’s cop-turned-killer-robot is given bland, authoritative lines like “I will direct you to the nearest rape crisis center.” The movie seems cheap, however, and for a futuristic thriller it has both feet firmly planted in the ’80s (dig all those clunky TV sets and cars!). Not as satisfying an experience these days, though it still has moments of pulpy pleasure (gotta love when a meanie gets coated in toxic waste, then splatters on a windshield).
book_twicetoldTwice Told Tales (1963). A trio of chilling Nathaniel Hawthorne tales, all starring Vincent Price, was our latest spur-of-the-moment viewing from the This channel. The first segment, Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment, is the most entertaining with Price and roly-poly Sebastian Cabot as elderly scientist friends who discover that the corpse of Cabot’s long dead fiancée is perfectly preserved. The two investigate a liquid dripping into the woman’s coffin and find that it has miraculous age-reversing properties which can even bring the dead woman back to life. The three breifly enjoy being young again, until jealousy and the dreaded Ironic Twist sets in. Quite fun. The other two segments are merely okay. All three play like overly static, time-travel Star Trek episodes (particularly boring ones), complete with harsh lighting, stagey sets, garish photography and leading ladies who look not so much 19th century England as March 1963 Mademoiselle magazine. There are a few campy cheap thrills to be gleaned from flicks like this (Price’s grimace while a skeletal hand strangles him, f’rinstance); your mileage may vary.
We’re in the Legion Now (1936). More micro-budgeted hilarity from the gift that keeps on giving. Actually, “hilarity” might be too generous a word for this foreign legion comedy which strangely casts the very British Reginald Denny as a tough American gangster. With his buffonish pal Vince Barnett, Denny eludes pursuers by enlisting in the French foreign legion and getting shipped to a remote Moroccan outpost. Something of a slog to get through its 56 minutes, but there is some interest in the film being shot in an early color process called Magnacolor (which wasn’t intact on my DVD, alas). Intriguingly, this film has credits for choreography and dance costumes despite having no musical numbers — unless you count the brief scene with a circle of Moroccan folk singers. I’m working my way through these public domain comedies chronologically. The other 1936 film in the set — The Milky Way with Harold Lloyd — holds a lot more promise than this sandy dud.
Winter’s Bone (2010). Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of this critically acclaimed indie. What little prior exposure I had of the film consisted of a few glum scenes (including the one that accompanied Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar nomination) caught here and there. In it, a poor Minnesota Missouri girl (Lawrence) attempts to find out what happened to her missing drug dealer father, all the while dealing with the man’s skanky associates who know more than they initially let on. Meanwhile, she must also care for her ailing mother and two younger siblings while local law enforcement threatens to take it all away from her. Considering that it’s a small budgeted indie, the filmmakers did some amazing stuff here — not just in giving it a burnished, creepy atmosphere but casting it with actors who have such a feel for rural dialect/mannerisms that it often feels like a documentary. Jennifer Lawrence was a great lead, and I love the rapport she had with the two young kids playing her siblings. The other characters are pretty reprehensible, and the story dips into a mumbling fog at times, but overall this was a worthwhile effort. Not something I’d want to see over and over, mind you, but a bracing evening all the same.