Review: Maniac Cop

Tom Atkins plays a police detective who thinks a recent spate of grisly killings are the work of a former cop gone to seed. He’s right, although philandering husband and cop Bruce Campbell is wrongly pegged for the crimes when his wife turns out to be one of the victims. The real culprit is a former gun-happy rogue ‘hero’ cop (played by Robert Z’Dar), who was imprisoned for extreme over-zealousness. He was supposedly killed by prison inmates though, so good luck trying to convince the police commissioner (Richard Roundtree) of that. Sheree North plays a veteran cop now disabled, William Smith plays Campbell’s superior officer, Laureen Landon plays Campbell’s mistress, a fellow cop who tries to help Atkins clear Campbell’s name and find the real killer. Ken Lerner plays the cowardly and corrupt local mayor, Leo Rossi is his off-sider.   I’m rather late to the party with this 1988 schlock favourite from C-grade director William Lustig ( “Maniac” , “Vigilante” , “Uncle Sam” ) and vete

Review: The Evil That Men Do

Charles Bronson is a former assassin living a peaceful life in the Cayman Islands, when he’s visited by an old acquaintance (Jose Ferrer!) with a job offer. An old friend of Bronson’s has been killed, supposedly a victim of a quasi-Nazi torturer known as The Doctor (Joseph Maher), AKA British-accented Dr. Clement Molloch. This ‘Doctor’ is a real piece of work, teaching his sadistic torturing trade to all manner of foreign generals and corrupt leaders, particularly in South America. He’s even blackmailed the slimy U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala (John Glover, natch), where The Doctor is currently operating unsanctioned. Bronson is retired, but meeting the dead man’s widow (Theresa Saldana), he realises that it’s an assignment he simply must take up and he agrees to go to Guatemala to rub ‘The Doctor’ out. He and Saldana head for Guatemala posing as a couple, with Rene Enriquez as Bronson’s local contact. Raymond St. Jacques plays a rather brutal thug on the payroll of ‘The Doctor’, whilst

Review: The Cold Blooded Beast

The setting is a mental health facility for mostly hot young women, though it’s fashioned out of a medieval-looking castle. The assorted medieval weaponry stashed inside the castle provides the tools of the trade for a killer on the loose, hacking away at the beautiful women one by one. Rosalba Neri plays the resident nymphomaniac, Jane Garret (in her only film role to date) plays a lesbian who gets a massage (and more) from a nurse played by Monica Strebel, whilst Klaus Kinski and John Karlsen are the creepy-looking male authority figures on hand.   Somewhat controversial 1971 mixture of sex and giallo/slasher violence from director Fernardo Di Leo ( “Hired to Kill” , “The Boss” , “Naked Violence” ) and co-writer Nino Latino ( “Naked Violence” ), is actually a pretty damn solid film for what it is. I’m not sure why it’s alternatively titled “Slaughter Hotel” when it clearly takes place in a mental health retreat facility, but I was on board with this one pretty quickly. A mental h

Review: Dark Waters

Based on a true story outlined in a New York Times article, Mark Ruffalo plays a lawyer from a conservative firm that generally defends big corporations. It’s a comfortable life he has with wife Anne Hathaway and their kids. However, a farmer from Ruffalo’s home state of West Virginia (Bill Camp) brings news that one of the big corporations Ruffalo’s firm tends to be chummy with – DuPont Chemicals – has been dumping chemicals where they shouldn’t and it’s killing the livestock. Ruffalo’s law firm – chiefly the symbolically black-hatted Victor Garber want Ruffalo to shut the fuck up and leave it alone. Hell, even his wife isn’t impressed that her husband has suddenly turned into a do-gooder. However, Ruffalo has a conscience and it’s urging him to take on the fight. Tim Robbins plays Ruffalo’s boss, who may have half a conscience buried somewhere within him, Bill Pullman plays a crusading lawyer helping Ruffalo, Mare Winningham plays one of the affected West Virginians.   Haven’t we

Review: Brubaker

Robert Redford is the title character Henry Brubaker, who initially poses as a prisoner before revealing himself the new reform-minded administrator of a corrupt and out-of-control prison in America’s South. The well-meaning Brubaker has a tough task ahead of him, butting heads with prison board chairman Murray Hamilton, uneasily earning the trust of the prisoners and trustees including the hardened and cynical trustee Dickie (Yaphet Kotto), who hasn’t yet made his mind up about the new head honcho. Jane Alexander plays Brubaker’s political ally, who wishes Brubaker weren’t so pig-headed, outspoken, and inflexible. Tim McIntire plays the brutal bully Huey, Matt Clark is the warden’s clerk, Joe Spinell and Everett McGill are prison thugs, Richard Ward is an elderly prisoner, Morgan Freeman an extremely volatile one, David Keith and Val Avery also play prisoners. John McMartin is solid as a pragmatic liberal senator whom Brubaker thinks is useless, M. Emmet Walsh and his stupid hat plays

Review: Tenebrae

Anthony Franciosa is an author of violent novels currently touring Italy, where he is met with criticism from feminist and puritan critics alike (the latter played by John Steiner). And that’s before a woman’s throat gets slit, with pages from one of Franciosa’s books stuffed inside her mouth. More murders pop up imitating scenes from the books, and before long Franciosa is getting lurid phone calls too. John Saxon plays Franciosa’s agent, Daria Nicolodi (Mrs. Argento) plays Franciosa’s assistant.   A favourite Dario Argento ( “Deep Red” , “Opera” , “Creepers” ) film of many, however I think this 1982 murder-mystery giallo from Argento is intermittently excellent. Far too intermittently for me to ultimately give it a recommendation. Sorry, but for me “Suspiria” and “Inferno” are still top of the Argento pile for me, I was even a little bored at times here. It’s typically stylish, and the violence is rather harsh and uncompromising, whilst the synth-pop score is cool too (featurin

Review: Some Will, Some Won’t

Crazy old Wilfrid Brambell kicks the bucket, and four of his relatives turn up for the reading of the will. It seems Brambell was a bit of a black humoured prankster (whom we see via a recorded message) and has devised a task for each of the relatives to perform or else they will not get the promised 150,000 pounds from him. Milquetoast little bank clerk Ronnie Corbett is tasked with robbing his own bank, managed by John Nettleton. Serial skirt-chaser Leslie Phillips has to marry the first girl he next comes across. Trashy crime author Michael Hordern needs to commit an actual crime that will result in a 28 day prison sentence. Perpetually rude Thora Hird is required to work as a hotel maid for four weeks.   Having not seen the original “Laughter in Paradise” , I’m able to look at this 1970 Duncan Wood (mostly a TV guy, principally “Steptoe and Son” ) comedy on its own merits. As such, I rather enjoyed it, the cast is full of familiar faces, all of whom do excellent work with one e