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Review: Ip Man 4: The Finale

It’s 1964 and martial arts teacher Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is dying of cancer and his son has been expelled from school for standing up to bullies. His former student Bruce Lee (Chan Kwok-Kwan) invites Ip Man to visit him in the US where he is controversially bringing kung-fu to the Western world. He’s about to host a tournament, and with Ip Man thinking of sending his wayward son abroad to study, he decides to go along and check things out on both fronts. Old-school Chinese elders in the US are none-too pleased with Mr. Lee’s teaching kung-fu to Westerners. When Ip Man struggles to find financial backing to send his son to an American private school, Chinese Benevolent Association chairman Master Wan (Yue Wu) suggests he may be able to assist of Ip Man deals with their little Bruce Lee problem. Ip Man doesn’t like the sound of that deal, however. Meanwhile, Master Wan’s daughter is having similar bully problems at school as Ip Man’s son. Then there’s the matter of Lee student and U.S. Mar

Review: The Sherlock Holmes Collection

“The Sign of Four” : Every year for several years on the anniversary of her father’s disappearance, Miss Morston has received pearls and a mysterious map with four names written on it, including her father’s. Sherlock Holmes (Peter Cushing) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Stock) are called in to investigate. An oddball figure named Thaddeus Sholto (Paul Daneman) claims to have some knowledge in the matter. “The Blue Carbuncle” : Holmes and Watson investigate the theft of a priceless blue gem on behalf of a domineering Lady Morcar (Madge Ryan).   In the mid 60s, the BBC broadcast two seasons of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, both with Nigel Stock as Dr. Watson, and with Douglas Wilmer and Peter Cushing playing Sherlock Holmes for a season each. Almost all of Wilmer’s season has survived, but only about 5 episodes of the Cushing season have survived to this day. I purchased (very cheaply at under 5 bucks, I might add) a DVD with two of Cushing’s episodes, which are the subject of this review.  

Review: Eaten Alive

A bespectacled and dishevelled Neville Brand is the insane proprietor of the rundown Starlight Hotel who kills people and feeds them to a pet crocodile/alligator he keeps as a pet. William Finley, Marilyn Burns and young Kim Richards play a bickering family and potential victims, Carolyn Jones plays brothel owner Miss Hattie, and Robert Englund plays a sleazy creep named Buck whose favourite activity rhymes with his name. Stuart Whitman turns up as a local lawman, and Mel Ferrer is a concerned father of hooker Roberta Collins.   1976 cult item from director Tobe Hooper ( “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” , “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” , “Lifeforce” ) is one of those films like Jack Hill’s “Spider Baby” where it’s such a bizarre and consistently watchable experience that it doesn’t even really matter that it’s not an especially good film. More in league with “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” than the original “TCM” , it’s the furthest thing from subtle, but it’s so nuts that you just sit there s

Review: Madhouse/The Revenge of Dr. Death

Horror star Paul Toombes (Vincent Price) retired from the business after his wife’s murder caused a nervous breakdown. When asked by a doctor, he doesn’t even know if he’s the one who killed her or not. Some years later he is out of the title asylum and persuaded to return to England to reprise his most famous role Dr. Death. The man who persuades Toombes to come out of retirement is the character’s co-creator Herbert Flay (Peter Cushing), who is also a failed former actor. Unfortunately, once shooting begins on the new TV series, cast and crew start getting bumped off by someone in a Dr. Death costume. Who could it be doing the killing? Robert Quarry plays an a-hole producer of the series who constantly needles Toombes, Adrienne Corri plays an insane old lady (and Flay’s wife), Linda Hayden plays a young actress, and Natasha Pyne is the PR girl who greets Toombes when he arrives back in England.   AIP and Amicus Films teamed up for this thoroughly disappointing 1974 mess from dire

Review: Hatchet for the Honeymoon

Stephen Forsyth plays a charming lady killer – literally, he kills beautiful young women, a task made easier by his bridal fashion business. Will pretty young Dagmar Lassander be yet another of this man’s victims? Laura Betti plays Forsyth’s harpy wife, whose constant berating and complaining are starting to form cracks in Forsyth’s outwardly seemingly fairly ‘normal’ persona that hides the monster within him.   Highly underrated mixture of giallo and “Peeping Tom” , this 1970 flick from Mario Bava ( “Kill, Baby…Kill” , “Black Sunday” , “Black Sabbath” ) is one of his most enjoyable. Interesting and seriously twisted, it offers up a really good lead performance by Canadian-born Stephen Forsyth, who is like a more charismatic, psycho John Philip Law or something. It was actually his last of 10 films (all in Italy) before he quit the business and went back to Canada to work in music and photography, apparently. His killer in this film is a mixture of handsome Ted Bundy-type and the c

Review: Evils of the Night

Aliens (Tina Louise, John Carradine, and Julie Newmar) have landed on Earth and seem to have some connection to a couple of backwoods creeps (Neville Brand and Aldo Ray) killing young men and kidnapping their nubile female companions.   An all-star schlock cast is put to cheapjack use. This 1985 sci-fi/horror nonsense from director Mardi Rustam (writer-producer of Tobe Hooper’s bizarre and fun “Eaten Alive” ) and co-writer Phillip D. Connors (unsurprisingly a fairly prolific porno screenwriter) plays like the kind of inept T&A crap Fred Olen Ray churned out in the 80s and 90s ( “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” , “Evil Spawn” , “The Tomb” , etc). We even get appearances by regular Fred Olen Ray alum John Carradine and Dawn Wildsmith.   The T&A is nice and frequent for at least the first half, but that’s about all you’re gonna get from this one. A dishevelled-looking Neville Brand and slumming Aldo Ray are somewhat decent (Brand’s years of heavy drinking are clearly visible o

Review: A Tale of Two Cities

Set in both France and England in the late 18 th Century, sullen and frequently drunk lawyer Sydney Carton (Dirk Bogarde) gets involved in the plight of Lucie Manette (Dorothy Tutin), whose father (Stephen Murray) was imprisoned in the Bastille by the cold-blooded Marquis St. Evremonde (Sir Christopher Lee). Carton has obvious feelings for Lucie, but complications arise with the Marquis’ nephew Charles Darnay (Paul Guers), who is Lucie’s new husband in London, and no fan of his black-hearted aristocratic uncle. In fact, masquerading as an Englishman, he has fled Paris for London to escape the Revolution that his uncle’s actions pretty much set in motion. Carton, who supposedly looks the spitting image of Darnay, had previously helped Darnay out of a legal jam as well. Unfortunately, after receiving a distress message requesting he return home to Paris, Darnay is promptly arrested and imprisoned as the Revolution rages all round him. With Darnay set for the guillotine to essentially pa