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Review: Chase a Crooked Shadow

Set on the coast of Spain, diamond heiress Anne Baxter receives a visitor to her villa in the form of Richard Todd. Todd claims to be Baxter’s brother, but Baxter claims not to recognise Todd, and swears that her brother died in a car accident. Todd claims it was the passenger who died, and he was merely injured and suffered a brief spell of amnesia. She calls the police on him, but Todd is able to convince local cop Vargas (Herbert Lom) that his story is on the level and that his sister is just being ridiculous. He’s even got the same tattoo on his arm that the brother had. Soon he has replaced Baxter’s servants, and is pretty intent on hanging around, driving Baxter to near-breakdown. What on Earth is going on here? Faith Brook plays one of Todd’s companions, Alexander Knox is a well-regarded relative who backs up Todd’s story, to Baxter’s astonishment and confusion.   Here’s a nifty little crime-thriller from 1958, with terrific performances and an irresistible mystery plot. It’

Review: Nothing But the Night

A Scotland Yard Colonel (Christopher Lee) teams up with his pathologist friend (Peter Cushing) over a series of supposed suicides of elderly orphanage trustees that the Colonel suspects aren’t suicides. Meanwhile, A doctor (Keith Barron) and a reporter (Georgia Brown) a young girl (Gwyneth Strong) has just survived a bus crash, but her recollections of the incident involve fire – there were no flames involved in the crash whatsoever. That crash did however involve the deaths of three more trustees of the orphanage. The plot thickens. Meanwhile, the girl’s birth mother (Diana Dors), a prostitute and convicted multiple murderer shows up at the hospital demanding to see her estranged daughter. Duncan Lamont plays a doctor, Kathleen Byron and Shelagh Fraser play people from the orphanage, and Fulton Mackay turns up as a Scotland Yard Chief Constable.   I’ve been wanting to see this 1973 Peter Sasdy ( “Taste the Blood of Dracula” , “Countess Dracula” , “The Devil Within Her” ) mystery f

Review: Firepower

After her scientist husband is rubbed out, Adele (Sophia Loren) attempts to exact revenge on the reclusive billionaire criminal (also her husband’s employer) supposedly behind the hit. The FBI also want to track down this Karl Stegner fellow, and agent Frank Hull (Vincent Gardenia) has an idea: He contacts the rather shadowy Sal Hyman (Eli Wallach) for help. Hyman gets in touch with a former hit man/mercenary named Fannon (James Coburn), believing Fannon to be the right man for this assignment and sends Fannon off to Antigua where this Mr. Stegner supposedly operates in seclusion. Fannon has a right-hand man named Catlett (O.J. Simpson) to help him out, as well as a twin brother named Eddie (also Coburn) to use as a cover on missions. George Grizzard and Anthony Franciosa turn up as the slimy Gelhorn and mysterious Dr. Felix, respectively. Billy Barty (!) plays a Curacao casino owner named Dominic Carbone, whilst former pugilist Jake LaMotta plays a hired thug.   Although I’m not s

Review: The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism

A lawyer (Lex Barker), a baroness (Karin Dor), and a priest (Vladimir Midar) are taken to the Castle of Count Regula (Christopher Lee), believed to have been drawn and quartered 35 years ago for murdering 12 women. They soon find themselves wondering if the Count really did die all those years ago as all manner of spooky goings on start happening at the castle.   Another German-made film featuring Christopher Lee (who previously played the lead role dubbed by someone else in “Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace” ), this 1967 horror film is from director Harald Reinl ( “The Return of Dr. Mabuse” , “The Valley of Death” , a spaghetti western with Lex Barker). Thankfully this time Lee is heard speaking English in his own voice for what comes across like a mixture of Hammer horror, Edgar Allen Poe, and Bram Stoker. It’s pretty enjoyable stuff, even though it’s a bit on the nose having Lee playing a character named ‘Count Regula’. The film is basically a loose retelling of Poe’s “Th

Review: The Flower With Petals of Steel

Smug surgeon Gianni Garko accidentally kills his mistress with the title floral sculpture. Panicking and not wanting to get caught, he grinds the corpse up in a meat grinder. He thinks he’s safe, the girl has disappeared but nothing points back to him.. However, his ex Carroll Baker – the sister of the deceased – thinks Garko did something to her and isn’t shy in letting him know. Meanwhile, the cops start sniffing around and all of a sudden Garko is getting nervous. Then the threatening phone calls start, claiming to know what Garko did and threatening to expose him as a murderer (accidental or not) if financial arrangements are not made towards them. However, he’s still composed enough to be shagging his other mistress, sexy secretary Pilar Velazquez.   Carroll Baker was a pretty decent star in Hollywood films of the 50s and early 60s, but by the late 60s her career choices got…curious. She was appearing in all kinds of softcore exploitation films, mostly European and mostly terr

Review: Every Which Way But Loose

Clint Eastwood plays a bare-knuckle fighter and trucker with an orangutan sidekick named Clyde. Sondra Locke plays a country singer Eastwood gets involved with, whilst Geoffrey Lewis plays Eastwood’s good buddy and fight promoter, and Ruth Gordon is his cranky old mother. Along the way, Clint gets on the wrong side of some bikers (including Roy Jenson, Bill McKinney, and John Quade), as well as Gregory Walcott’s pissed-off cop. Joyce Jameson turns up briefly as a waitress. Beverly D’Angelo plays a love interest for Lewis.   In the late 70s and early 80s Clint Eastwood was such a big star that audiences would flock to see him in almost anything, including two orangutan buddy movies. This 1978 film from director James Fargo ( “The Enforcer” , “Caravans” , “Forced Vengeance” ) was the first and worst of the two films, both of which are frankly pretty awful “Smokey and the Bandit” variants. Yeah, substitute Clyde the Orangutan for Sally Field, bare-knuckle fighting for beer-running, a

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