James Bond Month – The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

Director: Guy Hamilton

Writer: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz (Screenplay)

Starring: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize, Clifton James

 

Plot: James Bond is led to believe that he is targeted by the world’s most expensive assassin while he attempts to recover sensitive solar cell technology that is being sold to the highest bidder.


Tagline – He never misses his target, and now his target is 007.

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mostly Forgettable

 

Story: The Man with the Golden Gun starts when James Bond (Moore) is assigned to locate known assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Lee) who has personally set James a bullet with his name on. His investigation takes him to a bullet making who makes the golden bullets he is known for using.

James works with Mary Goodnight (Ekland) for the connection which takes him to his hideout on a mysterious island with Andrea Anders (Adams) leading him to the answers and a showdown with the deadly assassin.

 

Thoughts on The Man with the Golden Gun

 

Characters – James Bond is the secret service agent we know from the previous film, he continues to be the womaniser and prefers to work solo as he is trying to locate an assassin that has been paid to kill him, away from this we don’t learn much more about James. Francisco Scaramanga is the assassin that is assigned to kill Bond, he will only normally kill the people he has been hired to kill playing along with the honour of the kills, he is a man of myth who sees Bond as a great challenge. Mary Goodnight is the Bond girl that has been working on assignment in Thailand, she becomes the connection that helps with the case. Andrea Anders is the mistress that gets caught up in the middle of the twos battle.

PerformancesRoger Moore leads what is a very average set of performances who don’t get enough to do to make them standout, Moore tries to play this more serious and it doesn’t work. Christopher Lee is the highlight of the performances that makes us want to see more of his stories.

StoryThe story brings Bond on his latest mission where he must investigate an assassin that has been assigned to kill him. Now this does make the story feel more forgettable because it is just a villain who is searching for a challenge, rather than any criminal mastermind that wants to change the world. there is a weak subplot which focuses on the use of renewable energy which could have been a lot more important. Even though Scaramanga is an interesting villain the story just lacks pace to make us truly believe the world is in danger which is what we have gotten the chance to see in the previous film.

Action/AdventureThe action in the film does have a couple of good chase sequences which include car and boat ones, only the fights fall slightly flat. The adventure side of things does take Bond to a new country though it never feels like any of the previous life and death moments he has faced.

SettingsThe settings for the film bought to light one of the most beautiful location in the world, a prefect location for a hideout at the time.


Scene of the Movie –
Nik Nack’s bloody lust.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The American tourist that is racist towards the Thai will on holiday. Or that sound effect for the bridge jump.

Final ThoughtsWhile not bad or good, this is by far the first forgettable Bond movie to date.

 

Overall: Drags along too slowly.

Rating

 

 

Dracula (1958)

Director: Terence Fisher

Writer: Jimmy Sangster (Screenplay) Bram Stoker (Novel)

Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Melissa Stribling, Carol Marsh, Olga Dickie, John Van Eyssen

 

Plot: Jonathan Harker begets the ire of Count Dracula after he accepts a job at the vampire’s castle under false pretenses, forcing his colleague Dr. Van Helsing to destroy the predatory villain when he targets Harker’s loved ones.


Tagline – Sensational SHOCK and THRILL SHOW!

Runtime: 1 Hour 22 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Another Dracula Story

 

Story: Dracula starts when Jonathan (Van Eyssen) heads to meet Count Dracula (Lee) in an attempt to have learn the truth about the mysterious Dracula, when Doctor Van Helsing (Cushing) doesn’t hear back from Jonathan, he heads to the castle only to learn the tragic truth.

Returning to London, Van Helsing soon discovers Dracula has followed him, searching for his latest victim, which will see him haunt the family of the fiancée of Jonathan, trying to make his new latest bride, Van Helsing sets out to end the reign of terror Dracula has been having for years, can he stop him?

 

Thoughts on Dracula

 

Characters – Doctor Van Helsing has been trying to hunt down Dracula for years now, his latest attempt sees him anger the vampire, forcing him to defend his loved ones before he starts his own attack on the vampire. Count Dracula has lived a life where his presence has struck fear in the locals, he is a vampire with his age seemingly unknown, after his bride is taken from him, he goes after the people that took her, in search of finding his new bride. Arthur is one of the people working with Van Helsing, it is his family that has becomes the target of Dracula, with Mina being the wife of Arthur that is one of the women Dracula wants to make his brides.

PerformancesPeter Cushing and Christopher Lee are the icons on the 50’s horrors, this film shows they are just wonderful in the horror performances both sides of the good and evil scale. When it comes to the supporting roles, it appears that the rest of the cast are meant to just let the lead two stars take the spotlight.

StoryThe story here is the basic Dracula story, where after one of his brides is killed, Dracula targets the family that took his bride to get his own new bride and revenge. The Dracula story has been told so many times, it does become slightly boring to watch a story that doesn’t offer anything new to the tried and tested formula. If you do know the basic story, you will know everything that happens in this film which just ends up being nothing refreshing.

HorrorThe horror comes the ideas of vampires with Dracula lurking in the darkness, most doesn’t come off scary though which is disappointing.

SettingsThe film uses the couple of main locations, we have the castle of course which we don’t spend enough time around, the English house that shows how the family will try to hide from Dracula.

Special EffectsThe effects are practical which do bring one of the most memorable scenes in the film.


Scene of the Movie –
final showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It isn’t anything new.

Final ThoughtsThis is a hammer horror version of Dracula, it works well enough for the basic idea, only it doesn’t reach too much new to the story idea.

 

Overall: Hammer Horror Dracula.

Rating

 

 

1941 (1979)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale (Screenplay) Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, John Milius (Story)

Starring: Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson

 

Plot: Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.


Tagline – As They Roared Into Battle, Only One Thing Was Missing…The Enemy!

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simply Not Good Enough

 

Story: 1941 starts in the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, The Japanese are searching for Hollywood for their latest attack, while the army are planning to create a defence on the Californian coastline, Sgt Frank Tree (Aykroyd) leads his men in preparations while pilot Captain Wild Bill Kelso (Belushi) travels the country to support his troops.

The preparations bring us comical happenings which lead to what is going on between the Americans and the impending Japanese.

 

Thoughts on 1941

 

Characters – We have so many characters in this film it is hard to pick out the main ones, we will though, Sgt Frank Tree tries to keep peace between his soldiers and not letting them fight with the locals. Ward Douglas is the man that sees it has an honour to host the army for prime location for defence. Captain Wild Bill Kelso is a pilot that enjoys a drink, he heads across country to join the battle. Where we have too many characters it is hard to see which one we are meant to be follow the most.

PerformancesThe performances are affected by the mass cast because no one gets to show their best skills, we have the comical actors that want to joke, only for them to miss, then the serious actors not hitting their moments either.

StoryThe story follows the Americans as they plan for a potential next attack on America from the Japanese in the aftermath of the Pearl Harbour attack. The problem I see with this story, it showing us how we make light of a devastating moment in history with the Pearl Harbour attack and shows how America did panic but didn’t seem to take the events serious, well that is what the film gives us.

Action/Comedy/WarThe action plays into the comedy which gets basic laughs but most of the laughs seem to have dated badly and even just give us toilet humour, all with the backdrop of World War II.

SettingsThe film puts us in LA for the events of the film which shows how Hollywoodland would react to the impending war.


Scene of the Movie –
Plane sex.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many characters.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the biggest misses of Spielberg’s career, it has too many characters and doesn’t manage to balance out the comedy and action well enough.

 

Overall: Disappointing throughout.

Rating

 

 

Horror Express (1972)

Director: Eugenio Martin

Writer: Arnaud d’Usseau, Julian Zimet (Screenplay)

Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Alberto De Mendoza, Silvia Tortosa, Julio Pena, Angel del Pozo

 

Plot: In 1906, in China, a British anthropologist discovers a frozen prehistoric creature and must transport it to Europe by train.


Tagline – A nightmare of terror travelling aboard the Horror Express!

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Cult Lovers Horror

 

Story: Horror Express starts as anthropologist Professor Sir Alexander Saxton (Lee) has made a prehistoric discovery in China and must now transfer it back to Europe for further studies. He discovery is secret and Dr Wells (Cushing) is curious about what is in the box and after people start disappearing and dying, Saxton is forced to open the box.

When the creature gets loose on the train, the bodies start piling up and the decision on whether to follow science or just survive get bought up.

 

Thoughts on Horror Express

 

Characters – Professor Sir Alexander Saxton has travelled the world for his anthropology missions and his latest find could well be his biggest find of his career, now he must fight to keep it from being killed as it hunts for prey. Dr Wells wants to conduct his own investigation into the creature which soon leads him to let the monster out the box. The characters on the train each face their own problems on how to tackle the creature roaming the halls.

PerformancesChristopher Lee and Peter Cushing are two of the biggest icons of horror films, they both shine with their characters which they bring to life. The supporting cast are good without being overly stand out.

StoryThe story follows the transportation of an unknown prehistoric creature from China to Europe when things start to go wrong and the question of science and faith come into question. The story here gains from being on the train meaning our characters must com together for the solution to the problem instead of running and hiding. This is good for a story, but sadly it doesn’t end up being as engrossing as it should be.

Horror/Sci-FiThe horror in the film comes from the idea of a creature loose on the train that is taking victims, with the sci-fi side looking at the history of life’s unknown moments before history was recorded.

SettingsThe film takes place on the train, we don’t leave the train which leaves out characters trapped at the mercy of the evil hunting them down.

Special EffectsThe effects for the movie are good for the time, the change in the characters after the creature attacks do work well.


Scene of the Movie –
The change in eyes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is hard to believe in the supporting cast for the most part.

Final ThoughtsFor a cult movie this is a good movie, this does the basics for a horror to make us entertained throughout.

 

Overall: Good cult horror film.

Rating

 

 

Tim Burton Weekend – Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Director: Tim Burton

Writer: Kevin Yagher, Andrew Kevin Walker (Screenplay) Washington Irving (Story)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gambon, Casper Van Dien, Jeffrey Jones, Richard Griffiths, Michael Gough, Christopher Walken, Christopher Lee

 

Plot: Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.


Tagline – Who will it come for next?!

Runtime: 1 Hour 45 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Delightful Fantasy Horror

 

Story: Sleepy Hollow starts in 1799 when forward thinking constable Ichabod Crane (Depp) is set from New York City to the small farming community of Sleepy Hollow, where a series of murders have been happening by a headless horseman, who takes the heads of his victims.

Requested by Baltus Van Tassel (Gambon), Ichabod gets to use his forward-thinking ideas to investigate the crimes and learn about the town’s people with their strong male hierocracy that controls business, until he teams up with Baltus daughter Katrina (Ricci) to unlock the truth about the legend of the headless horseman.

 

Thoughts on Sleepy Hollow

 

Characters – Ichabod Crane is a constable who wants to start using the science to solve crimes instead of the torture techniques being adopted for the time. He becomes the fish out of water in the farming community trying to solve a crime that is surrounded by supernatural, he must use his skills to solve who is behind the supernatural events, using his quirky ways. Katrina is the daughter of the Van Tassel’s who is looking for husband, she takes a liking towards Ichabod and helps learn the truth. Hessian Horseman is the legend that slaughtered many before being defeated and beheaded, now he has risen from the dead to take the heads of the community. Lady Van Tassel is the wife of Baltus, she has a secret from him and for the most part enjoys the new life she is living. Baltus is the man that called for Ichabod to help solve the murders, he is one of the few that will stand up for Ichabod to get the truth. We do get plenty of different town’s people to meet that fill the gaps to help us understand the hierarchy of the community.

PerformancesJohnny Depp was truly making his name at time of this release and we knew he was capable of the quirky, this shows him balance the act perfectly in one of his more underrated roles. Christina Ricci is good, though she doesn’t seem to need to do more than be the damsel in distress. Miranda Richardson does a good job n her role showing her experience of how to handle the period piece films. Christopher Walken does give us a delightful dark character though I do know he doesn’t do a lot of the headless scenes in the film. if you look at the rest of the cast we have some of the great British actors mixed with Casper Van Dien who at the time was hot property after Starship Troopers.

StoryThe story is based on the legend of the headless horseman, which in its own right is an interesting fantasy horror. We keep to the time where science was first trying to get pushed in the crime world and still looked down upon, we also get the idea that science is meant to solve crime until the supernatural is thrown into the mix throwing everything out the window. The story does give us a serial killer to try and see stopped which can keep the detectives in the audience happy and the pace things unfold give us enough time for the twists to have effect in the story.

Fantasy/Horror/MysteryThe fantasy side of the film comes from the horseman coming back from the dead to take the heads of the community. This does play into the horror elements of the film too because we see how the community become scared of whether they will be next, this does also give us the blood and the creepy atmosphere before his arrival. The mystery gives us the questions about who is behind the horseman and his return, this does give us twists along the way too.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to the best levels as we get to see the excellent built sets to make us feel like we are in 1799 farming community.

Special EffectsThe effects use mostly excellent practical effects with the lost heads, the CGI moments do work well too when used mostly with the re-creation of the horseman from the skeleton to human again.


Scene of the Movie –
Horseman vs Ichabod & Brom, excellent fight sequence.

That Moment That Annoyed Me The science does get forgotten in places.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fun fantasy horror that gives us an iconic killer with a crime to solve around why he has targeted the farming community.

 

Overall: Fun horror with Burton’s token quirks.

Rating