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Review: Smokey and the Bandit

Burt Reynolds stars as the man with the CB handle ‘The Bandit’, known for being able to ship anything quickly and without any interference from Johnny Law. He’s hired by a couple of short-and-tall cowboys (Paul Williams and Pat McCormick) to ship some beer on the ‘hush hush’ across state lines. With the lure of a big pay day, The Bandit heads off in his Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, whilst trusted partner Cledus (Jerry Reed) hauls the beer in his big rig. The idea is that The Bandit will attract the attention of any passing lawmen, so that Cledus can make the journey unimpeded. Complications come when a runaway bride (Sally Field, in real-life Reynolds’ main squeeze at the time) ditches her husband-to-be (Mike Henry) to hitch a ride with The Bandit. Henry’s father just so happens to be a stubborn, vengeful lawman by the name of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Comedic TV veteran Jackie Gleason), who will stop at nothing to catch The Bandit and his newest travelling companion.   I should’ve

Review: Albino

After his fiancé (Sybil Danning) is raped and killed by a supposed Albino African terrorist (Horst Frank), policeman James Faulkner is driven to take the law into his own hands to hunt the creepy cult leader down. Christopher Lee plays Faulkner’s friend and superior officer who tries to reason with Faulkner, but eventually orders a manhunt against his friend and subordinate. Erik Schumann plays the Rhodesian SAS Captain whom the government puts in charge of the hunt for Faulkner (who after shooting some black Africans, is accused of inflaming race relations), after it’s deemed Lee and the other local officers have somewhat of a conflict of interest out of their apparent loyalty to Faulkner. Trevor Howard plays a local white landowner and father of Danning (Yes, father of the very Austrian Sybil Danning. In a film set in Africa . I know), who suggests Faulkner take his most trusted servant (Sam Williams) with him.   Alternately known as “Albino” , “Night of the Askari” and my pers

Review: Dark Places

A recently deceased inmate of an asylum was owner of a large estate where two suitcases full of money were secretly stashed. Enter Robert Hardy, who poses as a relative of said inmate to make claim on the estate. Local doctor Christopher Lee sends saucy sister Joan Collins to the estate to offer her services as maid. They’re a couple of rotten schemers looking for the money, and Collins has no problems doing whatever it takes to get the money. Unfortunately, none of the three bargained on Hardy being plagued by sinister nightmares/apparitions about previous events in the estate involving the dead ancestor (also played by Hardy), his wife (Jean Marsh), and his mistress/nanny (Jane Birkin). Herbert Lom turns up as the lawyer handing over the estate.   Ignore the rather impressive-looking roster here, because this bland 1974 film from Australian director Don Sharp (whose best film was “Rasputin the Mad Monk” with Christopher Lee) is a pretty dull supernaturally-tinged thriller. One o

Review: Jurassic Park III

Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and his partner/protégé Billy (Alessandro Nivola) are approached by a wealthy couple (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni) who want to pay him to act as a tour guide whilst they fly over the island that housed “Jurassic Park”. He reluctantly agrees, but pretty quickly he realises that there’s more going on here than a scenic flight, and he ends up back on the island having to protect a bunch of morons (some of whom aren’t who they claim to be) from gigantic -and sometimes carnivorous – dinosaurs. Bruce A. Young, Michael Jeter, and John Diehl play the other members of the trip, whilst Trevor Morgan plays Macy and Leoni’s son. Laura Dern appears briefly reprising her character from the first film.   Further proof that my views aren’t like other people’s. This 2001 Joe Johnston ( “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” , “The Rocketeer” , “The Wolfman” ) sequel is the only “Jurassic” movie I like . It’s imperfect, but it’s the only movie in the entire franchise that to me see

Review: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Blustery family patriarch Big Daddy (Burl Ives) has just come home from the hospital. He’s dying from cancer, but wife Big Momma (Dame Judith Anderson) appears to be in denial and tries to keep everyone else there too. His loyal-but-unloved son Gooper (Jack Carson), his ghastly wife ‘Sister Woman’ (Madeleine Sherwood), and their monstrous children are like a pack of hyenas just waiting for Big Daddy to pass on so they can get their inheritance. Big Daddy’s favoured son Brick (Paul Newman) hides away in a room drinking heavily, ignoring the pleas of his sex-starved wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor), and seemingly deeply troubled by something that happened during his time as a football player. Something that he’s definitely in no hurry to discuss with Big Daddy. But his overbearing father has a whiff that something is not right with Brick, and will not be deterred by Brick’s attempts to evade him. Maggie hasn’t given up on Brick, either.   Although some may disagree, I think the mature

Review: Watership Down

A rabbit named Fiver (voiced by Richard Briers) is convinced of impending doom, but the Chief Rabbit (voiced by Sir Ralph Richardson) ignores his premonition-based fears. Fiver will not let the matter rest, and he and his brother Hazel (voiced by John Hurt) lead a group of rabbits in leaving to find a new warren. Eventually they come across an horrific warren run by a totalitarian general rabbit named Woundwort (voiced by Harry Andrews). Roy Kinnear voices the rather nervous Pipkin, whilst Denholm Elliott voices the peculiar and suspicious Cowslip, whose warren the protagonists happen upon along the way.   Many people of my generation were terrified by “Return to Oz” (The first film I ever saw theatrically, I still have trouble with it even now as a perfectly well-adjusted adult). For a generation or so before me, it appears to have been this 1978 animated adaptation of the Richard Adams novel by filmmaker Martin Rosen ( “The Plague Dogs” ) which left children screaming from the c

Review: Universal Soldier

Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are two Vietnam soldiers, one heroic, the other psychotic, who both die in battle. Lundgren, paranoid and all-whacked out had killed several civilians and even fellow soldiers he deemed ‘traitors’. In the present day they are re-animated (after being cryogenically frozen since the late 60s, presumably) via a top-secret, non-sanctioned military operation called UniSol, headed by Colonel Perry (Ed O’Ross). These re-animated zombies are turned into unstoppable killing machines to be controlled by computer technology, and able to sustain great damage and regenerate quickly. On a hostage-rescuing mission, one of the UniSols (Van Damme) starts to have flashbacks to his past as a dutiful soldier named Luc Devereaux, and he subsequently flees in confusion, aided by a nosy TV news reporter (Ally Walker – smoking and swearing instead of genuinely acting ) who stumbles upon the UniSol program. On the run (and headed for Devereaux’s hometown), they are purs