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Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace

Loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s Valley of Fear , Sherlock Holmes (Christopher Lee) and Dr. Watson (Thorley Walters) are convinced that the dastardly criminal Moriarty (Hans Söhnker) is up to no good, stealing a priceless necklace supposedly worn by Cleopatra. Scotland Yard however, are more annoyed with Holmes’ apparent grudge/bias against the master criminal genius, whom they see as a respectable member of society. Undeterred, the world’s greatest detective and his assistant set about trying to prove their suspicions.   Christopher Lee managed to play several different characters in the filmed versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series. He was a perfectly dashing, gentlemanly Sir Henry Baskerville to Peter Cushing’s Sherlock in Hammer’s version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” , and also played a very serious Mycroft Holmes in Billy Wilder’s underrated “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes” . Less-known is that he also played Sherlock Holmes himself at least th

Review: Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

The eccentric idiot pet detective Ace Ventura (Jim Carrey, who may or may not have been ill during filming) is back. After a failed rescue of a raccoon stuck on a mountain, a distraught Ace joins a Tibetan monastery to find himself again. A visit from a missionary (Ian McNeice) leads Ace back to being a pet detective, this time in search of a sacred white bat belonging to a particular African tribe. Simon Callow plays a snooty consul and avid trophy hunter, Sophie Okonedo plays a tribeswoman, the late Bob Gunton plays a safari park owner, and Kiwi Bruce Spence plays a supposedly Australian henchman/hunter.   The original “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” didn’t hold up to recent revisiting for me, but to be frank I loathed this 1995 follow-up from writer-director Steve Oedekerk ( “Nothing to Lose” , “Kung Pow: Enter the Fist” ) when it first came out. I vividly remember seeing the trailer far too many times in the seemingly arduously drawn-out build-up to its release and recognising a

Review: Amuck!

Doe-eyed Barbara Bouchet becomes aloof writer Farley Granger’s secretary, and quickly arouses the interest of Granger and his sexy seductress wife Rosalba Neri, who are fond of hosting decadent sex parties. However, Bouchet had a legitimate reason for applying for the secretarial position, as we slowly find out. Something involving a person from her past with a connection to Granger and Neri. Nino Segurini plays a local copper who keeps sniffing around.   Tolerable 1972 giallo erotica-mystery from writer-director Silvio Amadio ( “Smile Before Death” , a giallo with Rosalba Neri) has an enjoyably sexy softcore opening 20-30 minutes. Lots of nudity, sleaze, and softcore fondling, especially the Sapphic love scene between Barbara Bouchet and Rosalba Neri. It’s slow-mo deliciousness (Quentin Tarantino’s apparently a fan of it too), and I was enjoying the hell out of the film. Unfortunately, it slowly loses one’s interest over the next 60 or so minutes. There’s very little sex or nudity

Review: The Mirror Crack’d

An injured Miss Marple (Angela Lansbury) and her Scotland Yard detective nephew Dermot (Edward Fox) investigate a murder in her own local village where a film about Queen Elizabeth is set to be shot. Rock Hudson plays the movie’s director, Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak are feuding divas of rapidly advancing age, Tony Curtis plays the slick producer, Geraldine Chaplin plays Hudson’s possibly too-loyal assistant. Look out for a young Pierce Brosnan on the set of the Queen Elizabeth film in a cameo.   As with Sherlock Holmes, everyone has their favourite version of Miss Marple. I’m no Agatha Christie purist in the slightest, but for me Dame Margaret Rutherford will always be Miss Marple. You’d think that the future Jessica Fletcher, Angela Lansbury would be a perfect fit for the character. Unfortunately, she’s merely decent and this 1980 flop from veteran Bond director Guy Hamilton ( “Goldfinger” , “Diamonds Are Forever” , “Live and Let Die” ) is pretty subpar stuff despite an all-st

Review: Primal

Big game hunter Nic Cage has just captured a rare white jaguar and needs to deliver it to a zoo in Spain for a handsome sum, along with assorted snakes, monkeys, exotic birds and such. He has commissioned a cargo ship for the voyage, but it appears there will be a few tagalongs on this voyage. These include an attorney (Michael Imperioli), a naval officer and neurologist (Famke Janssen), black ops guys (led by LaMonica Garrett). Oh, and a former special forces guy turned nutjob killer-for-hire Kevin Durand. Yeah, he’s on board too. Needless to say, the psycho and the jaguar are somehow let loose and it’s up to Cage to lead everyone else in dealing with the situation.   Even when his films were guaranteed theatrical releases, Nic Cage was an actor whose choices (and often, his performances) seemed eccentric. These days, the Direct-to-DVD mainstay seems to alternate between mere paycheck jobs ( “Seeking Justice” , “Frozen Ground” , “Tokarev” , “Trespass” , “Dying of the Light” , “The

Review: Beautiful Stranger

Ginger Rogers stars as former showgirl ‘Johnny’, engaged to businessman Louis (Stanley Baker). They’re living happily on the French Riviera, though Louis is still technically married, albeit separated. They divorce will come through any day, he promises. Of course it will, of course he does. The kicker is that industrialist Louis’ business is actually controlled by his wife’s family, though he’s ‘helped’ the business through some lucrative, but highly unethical practices. Basically, Louis and his right-hand man Luigi (Eddie Byrne) are in the business of counterfeit coins. Oh, and he’s probably lying about the whole divorce thing, too. Herbert Lom plays a shifty loser acquaintance of Johnny, who is also connected to unscrupulous Louis. Jacques Bergerac plays a nice guy French potter whom Johnny meets after a minor car wreck, and falls for. Louis isn’t going to be too happy about that. John Le Mesurier can be briefly seen at the baccarat table, Ferdy Mayne plays a police detective.  

Review: The Blues Brothers

After his release from Joliet (prison), Jake Blues (John Belushi) and his loyal brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) attempt to reunite their blues band for enough money-making gigs to help out the struggling orphanage they were raised in. Along the way they seemingly piss off the entire state of Illinois, including state troopers, the local Nazi faction (headed by Henry Gibson), a country and western band (led by the intimidating Charles Napier), and a mystery woman on a violent vengeance streak (Carrie Fisher). Steve Lawrence plays an agent, Ben Piazza a snobby restaurant patron, Steven Williams is an angry cop, Twiggy plays a motorist Elwood gets sweet on, and Cab Calloway plays Jake and Elwood’s father figure and blues mentor Curtis. The Blues Brothers Band is comprised of the likes of Steve Cropper, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, Willie ‘Too Big’ Hall, Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy, Murphy Dunne,   Alan ‘Mr. Fabulous’ Rubin, Tom ‘Bones’ Malone, and ‘Blue’ Lou Marini.   People might think it’s strange tha