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Review: Dog Day Afternoon

Sonny (Al Pacino) and his volatile but none-too-bright colleague Sal (John Cazale) are attempting to rob a Brooklyn bank in broad daylight. Their other accomplice gets cold feet right beforehand and flees. There’s not as much money at the bank as Sonny expected. A hostage situation ensues, as both the law and the media turn up. So does a crowd of people, who initially view the robbers as Robin Hood-types. Then they find out the real reason why Sonny’s robbing the bank. What should’ve taken 10 minutes, goes on for hours and hours. Charles Durning plays the cop trying to get the hostages released safely and the situation resolved calmly. Sully Boyar and Carol Kane play bank employees, whilst a young Lance Henriksen plays a Fed, and Chris Sarandon plays Leon, someone very special to Sonny.Sidney Lumet made a turkey or two in his time (“Equus”, “A Stranger Among Us”, “Power”), but when he was on-target he’s was one of cinema’s finest with good-to-great films like “12 Angry Men”, “The Dead…

Review: Virgin Witch

Two sisters (Ann and Vicki Michelle) try to make it as models in London. Well, it’s really just Ann it seems who has that ambition. Whilst Vicki is pre-occupied with a new man (Keith Buckley), Ann falls in with a modelling agency run by lesbian Patricia Haines. After Haines takes Ann’s…um…measurements, Haines says she needs Ann to fill in at the last minute on a modelling job at a country estate for the weekend. Being that Ann isn’t a complete idiot, she takes sister Vicki along for support/protection. The carefree Ann isn’t exactly shy about her body, and happily poses nude for photographer James Chase once she relaxes. Meanwhile, Vicki explores the estate and runs into doctor Neil Hallett, the owner of the estate. You probably think there’s going to be some coupling going on here, but as the title suggests, there’s something far more sinister in the plans here this weekend.Tigon British were a fairly short-lived production/distribution company that never quite competed with Hammer o…

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Medical researcher James Franco is working on a hopeful cure for Alzheimer’s, using an experimental drug on apes, who apparently get a boost in intelligence from the drug. Unfortunately, one of the apes escapes its cage and goes wild, pretty much putting the kybosh on further funding. All of the apes are to be put down, but Franco manages to sneak out the baby of the super-intelligent ape who caused the ruckus, and raises it himself, naming him Caesar (Andy Serkis through CGI and motion capture). He also performs unsanctioned experiments with the drug on his own Alzheimer’s-afflicted father (John Lithgow), who initially shows a remarkable recovery. Unfortunately, over time Caesar has grown too big and too wild, and an unfortunate incident with one of the neighbours sees him taken away by animal control and locked up by gruff Brian Cox. Tom Felton plays a cage cleaner there who likes to pick on the apes, especially Caesar. But Caesar is no ordinary ape (nor was his namesake in “Conques…

Review: Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

Stephen Tyrone Williams is Dr. Hess Greene, an anthropologist and lover of African art. One night, Dr. Greene’s bizarro new assistant Lafayette Hightower (Elvis Nolasco) stabs the doctor with an ancient African dagger and then kills himself. It doesn’t kill Dr. Greene, however. Well, not exactly. Instead, once Dr. Greene awakens afterwards, he realises he’s actually undead. He’s been turned into a bloodthirsty vampire. Soon after this, Dr. Greene meets the lovely Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams) and the two fall in love. But then she discovers the doctor’s secret. Rami Malek plays manservant Higginbottom, whilst veteran character actor Stephen Henderson turns up briefly. I try. I really try, guys. I so want to be a Spike Lee fan like the rest of you. It sucks being the odd person out. I loved “Malcolm X” despite the distracting role filmmaker Lee unnecessarily gave for himself. “Inside Man” was Lee’s least pretentious, most straightforwardly entertaining film to date. I liked that one just fin…

Review: It’s a Wonderful Life

Set in the fictional small-town of Bedford Falls, Jimmy Stewart is good-hearted and well-liked George Bailey. While his younger brother Harry (Todd Karns) goes off to college, George’s family can’t afford to send him, so George (who saved Harry from drowning when they were younger) stays in Bedford Falls to work at the Building and Loan company run by their father (Samuel S. Hinds). Harry promises to come back and take over for George after a while, so George can go off to college and eventually see the wide world. Unfortunately, things don’t work out that way, and poor nice guy George is left to look after the business, which is being run roughshod over by scheming, black-hearted capitalist Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore), who owns everything in town except The Bailey’s Building and Loan business. Thomas Mitchell plays absent-minded Uncle Billy, whose addled brain unintentionally causes calamity for the business. Donna Reed plays Mary, the good girl who has been waiting forever for Geo…

Review: Hawk the Slayer

John Terry stars as the title warrior who gathers a band of varied adventurers to help out an Abbess kidnapped by the evil, helmet-mask waring Voltan (Jack Palance). Voltan happens to be Hawk’s older brother, who murdered their father (Ferdy Mayne) after he refused to give Voltan his secret powers (which included a sword). Instead, those powers have been inherited by Hawk. Bernard Bresslaw is the ‘giant’ Gort, Ray Charleson is Crow the Elf, and Peter O’Farrell plays dwarf Baldin. Morgan Sheppard plays wounded warrior Ranulf, whilst Shane Briant plays Voltan’s vile son Drogo. Harry Andrews (as High Abbot), Roy Kinnear (as a petrified inn-keeper), Warren Clarke (burning a witch and picking a fight with Hawk), and Patrick Magee (as a priest) all have bit parts. An early sword-and-sorcery effort with a large debt owed to Tolkien, this 1980 fantasy flick from Terry Marcel (“Prisoners of the Lost Universe”) and co-writer/producer/composer Harry Robertson (“Prisoners of the Lost Universe”) i…

Review: The Debt Collector

Scott Adkins plays a martial arts instructor whose dojo has run into financial trouble. A friend (Michael Paré) suggests a gig as a debt collector for loan shark Vladimir Kulich. With no other choice, Adkins (whose character is also a war veteran) accepts. He’s teamed with the more experienced but largely burned-out Louis Mandylor, and after a couple of early botches they make for an alright team. Well, Adkins does most of the heavy lifting since Mandylor seems a bit jaded and lazy, but still they make it work somehow. Complications arise when Tony Todd turns up as a formidable gangster named Barbosa, who hires the men to find an ex-employee who has been ripping him off. Adkins and Mandylor find the culprit, but something seems fishy about it. Director Jesse V. Johnson (“Triple Threat”) and co-writer/Scott Adkins’ childhood best friend Stu Small get quite a few things right with this hardened action-comedy from 2018. Unfortunately, witty/clever dialogue is not among the film’s arsenal…