• Dames

    Dames

    ★★★½

    Barely-there shrug of a story not helped by making Powell/Keeler the nucleus around which all the chaos whirls - I mean, Joan Blondell is right there! - so it lacks the whirligig delight of Footlight Parade or Gold Diggers of 1933. But when the Berkeley numbers finally hit... godDAMN, it's worth the wait.

  • Murder at the Vanities

    Murder at the Vanities

    ★★★½

    Amusing, busy musical/mystery with some sub-Berkeley dance sequences, the most interesting of which has a literal sea of chorus girls waving large feathered fans to simulate ocean waves around a desert island. Kinda weird to see Kitty Carlisle in a non-What's My Line? context.

    Plus: Duke Ellington!

  • Body Double

    Body Double

    ★★★★½

    A fevered and electrifying genre workout, a rich gumbo of Hitchcock and slasher films (esp. Slumber Party Massacre) and MTV and De Palma referencing his own damn self - a mirror looking into another mirror. Griffith is incandescent, Wasson is properly shlubby and loathsome (the Everyman as shitty pervert mark). Welcome to the pleasuredome.

  • Game of Death

    Game of Death

    Head-splitting garbage. *rimshot*

  • Teaserama

    Teaserama

    ★★

    Klaw directs this as an extension of his photography work rather than as a film, and the result is flat and lifeless despite energetic attempts by Betty Page and Tempest Storm to raise the temperature. Especially lame comic segments don't help. Only note of interest is Vicki Lynn, who gets (in order) one of the better bits of comedy, a lively Spanish-style partnered dance and the sultriest solo dance. Vicki's solo number also has one of the surprisingly few pieces…

  • Crazy Desires of a Murderer

    Crazy Desires of a Murderer

    ★★

    Has even less going on than The Killer Is One of 13 - basically a Sylvia Kristel Emmanuelle film where, amid all the bare rubbing flesh and stylish clothing, a couple people get stabbed and de-eyed. Never actively terrible, just as inessential as they come.

  • The Ghastly Ones

    The Ghastly Ones

    ★★★½

    Alternate title: Hatin' Place

  • Johnny Cool

    Johnny Cool

    ★★★

    The crime flick as jazz, floating on a vibe and a sense of collaborative purpose through a vague haze of incident. Way less coherent than expected but also way weirder, and has a perfect lead in Silva who combines a Marvinesque cold-eyed intensity with the smirking threat of violence enjoyed a la Widmark. The nebulous structure and cast of familiar, offbeat faces (Elisha Cook! Telly Savalas! Jim Backus! Sammy Davis Jr. with an eyepatch!) suggest a first-draft version of Point Blank; the no-heroes cynicism and mostly-implied hyperbolic violence mark this as an embryonic poliziotteschi.

  • Blast

    Blast

    ★★★

    Has its modest pleasures (Andrew Divoff's reptilian performance, the general indulging of merciless violence) that keep it barely aloft even under the weight of its super-slack pacing... and then it climaxes with a bit of business involving a wheelchair-bound Rutger Hauer that hits so perfectly that it retroactively makes the film seem like a slow build to one amazing punchline. I'll take it.

  • Street People

    Street People

    ★★★

    The story is a complete hash, even more so than standard for the genre. But there's an ineffable delight in seeing Roger Moore playing a rotten cold-blooded bastard. Plus, Stacey Keach gets to hang around and do his thing, and there's a terrific car chase that looks forward to the smash-up parking garage scene in The Driver.

  • Hells Angels on Wheels

    Hells Angels on Wheels

    ★★★

    Essentially a loose, mellow hangout film with an undercurrent of menace that occasionally pays off that menace with brief bursts of violence. Rush's heart is clearly in the party scenes and the picturesque scenes of the gang riding their hogs along the sun-dappled desert highways, less so in the parts that have to move the meager story forward. Nicholson's intense, heavy-lidded charisma is in full effect, which helps during its longeurs.

  • Apart From You

    Apart From You

    ★★★★

    A perfect little miniature. The dollies in this are violent.