The Towering Inferno (1974)


Director: John Guillermin

Writer: Stirling Silliphant (Screenplay) Richard Martin Stern, Thomas N Scortia, Frank M Robinon (Novel)

Starring: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, Richard Chamberlain


Plot: At the opening party of a colossal, but poorly constructed, office building, a massive fire breaks out that threatens to destroy the tower and everyone in it.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Classic Disaster Masterclass


Story: The Towering Inferno starts as the architect of the brand-new building preparing for opening night Doug Roberts (Newman) discovers not everything is quite as he had planned only up to standard rather than up to his desired safety standards.

With the party bringing in the who’s who of the town including the mayor (Collins), Senator Parker (Vaughn) along with a range of celebrity faces. But little do the guest know there is a fire starting to burn in on the maintenance rooms. When Doug discovers the fire, he goes to bring it under control wanting to end the party early but Jim Duncan (Holden) refuses let it be a worry. Fire Chief O’Hallorhan (McQueen) comes to tackle the fire bring the party to an end with the 300 plus guests need to find a way below the fire, but when it becomes clear that Simmons (Chamberlain) has cut corners the safety of everyone in the building it now at risk. We are left to see how the Chief can put together the best rescue possible for everyone inside the building.


Thoughts on Towering Inferno


StoryThe disaster genre has always been an easy sell on the story and this is no different having group of survivors trapped in a building that is on fire with little to no easy escape, what more could you want? This does have deeper stories because each character has their own story to why they are in the tower and what is waiting if they can get out which draws us into the bigger picture of the story, which is what many disaster films have tried and failed over the years.

Action/ThrillerThe action sequences are planned brilliantly as we see how each moment that could go wrong does go wrong which leads us into the thrilling side as we are left on edge seeing where this story will go next.

Characters/PerformanceDoug the architect is a great leading character because he knows the flaws that are not his fault, Chief O’Hallorhan also makes for a joint great leading character because he controls the men to pull off the rescue mission, having to characters that are putting everything into saving as many people as possible really shines through. Looking deeper into the characters we get plenty of supporting characters we can all enjoy watching their stories as we are drawn into finding out what happens to them.

Diving into the performances I feel Newman was the star of the show with Holden showing just all of the experience he bought to his role. I did find it hard to get pulled into the McQueen performance who feels static in certain scenes with Dunaway doing well without reaching her ability. The rest of the supporting cast all do well and you want to follow their stories through.

SettingsWe have the whole film within the glass tower which becomes the prison for people stuck in the top floor. The setting is used perfectly because at the time the buildings were getting bigger and dealing with a blaze would have be a challenge for any fire crew.

Special EffectsWhen you look at the disaster movie genre one of the main attractions is seeing how breath-taking all the sequences are and this has them with wonderful special effects that make you believe in every sequence going on through the film.

Final ThoughtsWe have here a disaster film that is nearly three hours long and never get remotely dull, now that is something directors should all be learning from.


Overall: If you ever want to know how to make a disaster film that tells the story well this is where you start.





Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

texasDirector: Tobe Hooper

Writer: Kim Henkel (Screenplay)

Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen


Plot: Two siblings visit their grandfather’s grave in Texas along with three of their friends and are attacked by a family of cannibalistic psychopaths.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Shocking


Story: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starts with a warning that this is a true story (it is not) before throwing news stories at us with the main one being that a Texas graveyard has been having bodies dug up. Worried that their grandparents grave could have been disturbed Sally (Burns) and brother Franklin (Partain) along with friends Jerry (Danziger), Kirk (Vail) and Pam (McMinn) travel to Texas.

Arriving at a family home the friends look to settle down for the night. Searching for a good time alone Kirk and Pam search for a local waterhole only to stumble upon the neighbour’s house in the search for gas. It is here where we first meet Leatherface (Hansen) and here is where the massacre begins.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of the most iconic horror movies ever made. The story does keep everything very simple with it being 5 young people finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. They find themselves terrorized by Leatherface who doesn’t take long to kill most of his victims. There isn’t too many things fresh to say about this and I do think this is one I think shows you don’t need to overcomplicate horror films.


Actor Review


Marilyn Burns: Sally is known as the one who survives from the opening narration, she is the sister of the wheelchair bound Franklin who is joining her friends on the road trip. She becomes of the most iconic victims in any horror film ever made. Marilyn gives us a performance that will still be talked about today in the horror world.

Allen Danziger: Jerry is the boyfriend of Sally’s who does his best to make sure all the travelling Franklin does through easy. Allen does come off like just another victim in this film.

Gunnar Hansen: Letherface is the iconic mentally challenged horror killer, he kills ruthlessly with a chainsaw or with a hammer before preparing the bodies for food. Wearing human faces as a mask the killer makes an instant impact on screen with his first appearance being the swing of a hammer on his first victim. Gunnar will always be remembered for his role because it strikes fear in everyone who saw it.

Paul A Partain: Franklin is the wheelchair bound brother of Sally, he finds himself the 5th wheel on the trip where he does need help from the fellow travellers. Franklin has the most character development and you will be left shocked with what happens to his character. Paul is great in this role as we get to see a victim that doesn’t get a chance to run.

Support Cast: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has a small supporting cast with the friends being just victims and the rest of Leatherface family only appearing later in the film.

Director Review: Tobe HooperTobe gives us a horror film that shows how you can make true horror with little money and one that can shock the audience too.


Horror: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has some of the most brutal kills in horror history and the shock moments will have you jumping.

Settings: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre keep all the settings feeling like we are in the middle of nowhere.
Special Effects
: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has brilliant practical effects going on for the kills in this film.

Suggestion: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one I do expect every single horror fan should have seen at least once. (Horror Fans Watch)


Best Part: Shock of the kills.

Worst Part: Certain bad decisions being made by victims.

Kill Of The Film: Franklin because it is full of shock and jump scare.

Scariest Scene: Leatherface hooks Pam


Believability: While sold to be real it isn’t at all.

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: Has sequels, prequels and remakes.

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $83,532

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

Tagline: Nothing Cuts Like the Original!

Trivia: The human skeleton in the house at the end of the movie and many of the bones seen in the rest of the film are real. They used a real bones because a human skeleton from India is far cheaper than a fake plastic skeleton.


Overall: Truly one of the most shocking horror films of all time.




Black Christmas (1974)

blackDirector: Bob Clark

Writer: Roy Moore (Screenplay)

Starring: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, John Saxon, Maria Waldman, Andrea Martin, James Edmund


Plot: A sorority house is terrorized by a stranger who makes frightening phone calls and then murders the sorority sisters during Christmas break.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Nicely Built Horror


Story: Black Christmas starts as we meet our sorority girls Jess (Hussey), Barb (Kidder) Phyl (Martin) and Clare (Griffin) along with their house mother Mrs Mac (Walden). They are preparing for Christmas as well as dealing with creepy phone calls but not making too much from it. When Clare’s father Mr Harrison (Edmond) turns up to meet her she is nowhere to be found leading to her boyfriend Chris (Hindle) and LT Ken Fuller (Saxon) starting a man hunt for her.

We as the audience know where the killer who goes by the name Billy is and that is in the attic of the house along with the body of Clare, but the killer isn’t happy with just one body as we watch him pick off the sorority girls while begging for help with each phone call to the house.

Black Christmas is a film that got horrendously remade but here is the original that still holds up today. We have a slow building horror slasher that uses the creepy tones of a stalker inside the house as the best thing, we know this early on but our victims have no idea. The kills are not silly or over the top they are carefully planned by the killer to make sure he never gets caught. The police actually make sense in a horror film because they look at all options being available for the time. Some of the character do come off predictable but in the end this is a horror film that stands the test of time.


Actor Review


Olivia Hussey: Jess is your everyday ‘good’ girl in the sorority, but she does have a secret that she is pregnant with her boyfriend’s Peter baby that she wants to get rid of. She does get concerned by the phone calls coming in and always makes sure she is alert for anything happening around her. Olivia gives us a good performance in this role that comes off very believable with her innocence in the character.

Keir Dullea: Peter is Jess’ boyfriend who wants her to keep the baby and leave the career to get married, he sneaks around to make sure they can have time together. Keir does a good job in this role that has a lot more work than first imagined.

Margot Kidder: Barb is the drunk of the sorority who has many issues that won’t get dealt with in this time period, she speaks her mind as she continues to drink through everything going on. Margot is good in this role where she gets a few extra laughs.

John Saxon: LT Ken Fuller is leading the investigation into the missing girls which includes solving another case of a younger missing girl. He listens to all the options and pulls the town together to look for any information. John is great as this cop that actually does the right thing in the film.


Support Cast: Black Christmas has the disposable character you would expect to see in a horror film, they are all unique in their own way which works.

Director Review: Bob ClarkBob gives us a good horror that builds up nicely throughout.


Horror: Black Christmas lets the film slow burn the suspense instead of going for gore.

Settings: Black Christmas keeps a lot of the action inside the house because that is where the killer is hiding.
Special Effects
: Black Christmas doesn’t need too many effects with the kills because most is off camera.

Suggestion: Black Christmas is one the horror fans should have seen at least once. (Horror Fans Watch)


Best Part: Suspense

Worst Part: The ending might not please everyone


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: CAD $686,000

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes

Tagline: Black Christmas will ROCK you too!

Trivia: The film had only moderate box office success and negative critical reception when originally released, however the film went on to have a large cult following. It has since received a critical re-evaluation and is now considered a classic.


Overall: Horror gem that is way before it’s time


Network (1976)

rob challengeThis week Rob pick this classic Oscar winning film, let’s see what I think


Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: Paddy Chayefsky (Screenplay)

Starring: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Wesley Addy, Ned Beatty


Plot: A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor’s ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Ranting Classic


Story: Network starts when Howard Beale (Finch) a news anchor is being let go because of poor ratings, he announces a two week before his ‘retirement’ that he is going to kill himself live on air. The network decides to fire him before this happening but when Diana Christensen (Dunaway) sees the ratings she suggest bring him back along with his head of new Max Schumacher (Holden) as ruthless new owner Frank Hackett (Duvall) wants to see ratings rise.

The rating continues to grow leading to Howard becoming a hit but just how much do the network really care about what he is saying and will he follow through with what he says.

Network really is a film that I can understand why it is rated so highly but I didn’t enjoy, nearly every character gives epic rants about life which end up coming off very repetitive once we heard them all once. We do get to see the cut throat world of entertainment world but by then it all ends up making the lives of the characters feel like a television show. The social commentary does work well about how the general public can be blinded by bigger stories.


Actor Review


Faye Dunaway: Diana Christensen is the ruthless lady in the network who wants to make Howard Beale the biggest name on the station with the highest ratings, she will take chance other wouldn’t but she really is just compensation for something else. Faye gives a great performance as a very independent woman in a world way before its time.


William Holden: Max Schumacher is the former new head who gets fired once Howard is getting too big for him to bad able to handle or take serious. He gets involved in a relationship with Diana which puts his own marriage in danger. William gives a good performance in this role.


Peter Finch: Howard Beale is the news anchor who is threatening to kill himself after the network decides to force him into retire, but when people start tuning into his news reports he becomes an overnight success as a ranting man the nation starts to follow him. Peter gives the most memorable performance as he goes through the most rants.


Robert Duvall: Frank Hackett is the new network President that is desperate to become the next big thing and he see Howard as a way to make himself the biggest name in the network. Robert continued to show how much a consistent performer.


Support Cast: Network has typical network performance from the supporting cast that all work well for the roles being played.


Director Review: Sidney LumetSidney gives us a great idea behind the film but sadly it has started to feel dated now.


Drama: Network brings us lots of character ranting and screaming in a cut throat world.

Settings: Network keeps most of the action inside the network studio showing how things are closely knit to make sure we see how fast things come in and out of popularity.

Suggestion: Network is one to watch once to see how well the films used to be made. (Watch)


Best Part: Peter Finch

Worst Part: Too much ranting.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Won 4 Oscars and 5 Nomination

Budget: $3,8 Million

Runtime: 2 Hour 1 Minute

Tagline: Television will never be the same!


Overall: Brilliant cinema but too much ranting for my liking.


Dark Star (1974)

logoDirector: John Carpenter

Writer: John Carpenter, Dan O’Bannon (Screenplay)

Starring: Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Dre Pahich, Dan O’Bannon


Plot: In the far reaches of space, a small crew, 20 years into their solitary mission, find things beginning to go hilariously wrong.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: The Master Of Horrors Sci-Fi Original


Story: Dark Star starts with communication to Earth from the Dark Star spacecraft. The crew Lt Doolittle (Narelle), Talby (Pahich) Boiler (Kuniholm) and Pingback (O’Bannon) complete a mission that includes detonating talking bomb on mystery planet as they are trying to destroy all the unstable planets. The crew look for the next unstable planet on their mission which will leave them travelling through space alone for years and decades.

The ship has been damaged in a previous event leaving the group slightly less affective but still able to complete their jobs. The crew have managed to capture an alien that is now their mascot which needs feeding ever so often even though it just wants to play. The crew have to solve the problems they have encountered and continue on their mission.

Dark Star is a sci-fi film that ends up being one of the best ones you will see for its time of release and budget. It is true that it all looks cheap but when you think about the story being told you get something very special. Following the astronauts taking out planets which could end up causing supernovas seem to work for the idea too. Many films have used the space missions but I have failed to see one manage it with such a small budget. This really is early work from two of the icons of horror sci-fi genre that shows however good you are you can make anything work. (8/10)


Actor Review


Brian Narelle: Lt Doolittle is the leader of the mission who tries to keep everyone together through all the problems. Brian shows some strength but it is clear that he is an actor friend with the budget this small. (4/10)


Cal Kuniholm: Boiler is the short fused member of the mission who will snap if he gets pushed too far by the fellow crew members. Cal also struggles with the role. (4/10)


Dre Pahich: Talby is the man who likes to be alone in the observation deck rather than socialising with the rest of the crew. Dre doesn’t quite fit the role he is given. (4/10)


Dan O’Bannon: Pinback is the engineer on board who gets most of the comedy moments as we watch his sanity get pushed the most. Dan is by far the most entertaining member of the crew that will make you laugh the most too. (7/10)


Director Review: John Carpenter – John does a good job to prove he can tell a good story with next to nothing budget in a world where these films are all about the budget. (7/10)


Comedy: Dark Star has some funny moments mostly involving Pinback. (7/10)

Sci-Fi: Dark Star really will go down as a sci-fi classic because of the work done on the film. (8/10)

Settings: Dark Star creates a setting where the astronauts are in a confined space for the whole film with nowhere else to go. (9/10)
Special Effects
: Dark Star has good effects for the time and budget available. (7/10)

Suggestion: Dark Star is one for the sci-fi fans to enjoy and see what one of the first films did for all the modern day cinema. (Sci-Fi Fans Watch)


Best Part: Pinback trying to feed the alien which just so happens to be a giant inflatable ball.

Worst Part: People will criticise the low budget.

Funniest Scene: Alien chase.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Budget: $60,000

Runtime: 1 Hour 23 Minutes

Tagline: What Do You Say To A Talking Bomb? All Systems Snafu!!


Overall: Dark Star is a true cult classic but it also shows how easy telling a story is without having to go made with production value.

Rating 71