Fear and Desire (1953)

US / 61 minutes / bw / Kubrick Family, Joseph Burstyn Dir & Pr & Cine: Stanley Kubrick Scr: Howard Sackler Cast: Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp, Paul Mazursky, Steve Coit, Virginia Leith, David Allen

The first feature movie of Stanley Kubrick, the one that so embarrassed him in later life that he tried to erase it from history. For a long time it was thought the only two copies left in existence were the one held by the Kubrick family and a dreadful video copy. But then in 2010 an original copy was discovered languishing in a film laboratory in Puerto Rico, and this has since been restored by the folks at George Eastman House.

Kubrick dismissed the movie as a “bumbling amateur film exercise” and in a way one can see his point. It was an indie production, produced on the cheap with amateur actors and funded by family members, and that’s in many ways what it plays like. Yet it has points of interest, too, and for those—not just its curio value as Kubrick’s maiden voyage—it’s well worth watching. Continue reading

Twelve Shorts for the Shortest Month #4: The Woman in the Room (1983)

US / 30 minutes / color / Gregory Melton Dir & Scr: Frank Darabont Pr: Gregory Melton, Frank Darabont Story: “The Woman in the Room” (1978 Night Shift) by Stephen King Cine: Juan Ruiz Anchia Cast: Michael Cornelison, Dee Croxton, Brian Libby, Bob Brunson, George Russell

John (Cornelison), a lawyer and loving son, is being torn apart by the plight of his mother (Croxton): in the final stages of terminal cancer, she’s been given a cordotomy to relieve the agony, but the pain still persists. John knows an overdose of her old painkillers would put her over the edge into merciful oblivion, but can he really contemplate killing his own mother?

Without revealing his motives, he picks the brains of a multiple murderer (Libby) he’s representing, but is hardly reassured: the prisoner tells him the only killing that ever hit him hard emotionally was the mercy killing of a buddy in Vietnam who’d had his legs blown off and was falling prey to gangrene.

Michael Cornelison as John

Once again John must wrestle with his conscience . . . Continue reading

Night Caller, The (1965)

|
Noirish Science Fiction?
|

vt Blood Beast from Outer Space; vt Night Caller from Outer Space
UK / 84 minutes / bw (though there’s also a later colorized release) / New Art, Armitage, Butcher’s Dir: John Gilling Pr: Ronald Liles Scr: Jim O’Connolly Story: The Night Callers (1960) by Frank R. Crisp Cine: Stephen Dade Cast: John Saxon, Maurice Denham, Patricia Haines, Alfred Burke, Warren Mitchell, Stanley Meadows, Aubrey Morris, Ballard Berkeley, Marianne Stone, Geoffrey Lumsden, Barbara French, Anthony Wager, David Gregory, Romo Gorrara, Robert Crewdson, John Carson, Jack Watson.

night-caller-0-opener

Some while back I came across a reference to this as an intriguing example of a film noir/science fiction crossover. I discovered I’d bought a copy of the thing years ago but never watched it, so out I dug it. And now, finally, the watching’s been done.

night-caller-3-somewhere

Three scientists at Falsley Park Government Radio and Electronic Research Establishment—they’re just “scientists,” with no specialties itemized—are working away one night at whatever it is non-specialist scientists do that involves a lot of idle oscilloscopes when one of their number, Ann Barlow (Haines), spots something 100 miles above the ground that’s approaching the earth at high speed—over 10,000 miles per hour, in fact. Luckily it slows down, and they’re able to pinpoint where it must have landed.

The other two of the trio are the team leader, Dr. Morley (Denham), and Dr. Jack Costain (Saxon). Ann, being female, is not an out-and-out scientist like the other two. Instead she’s “our analysis expert.” And departmental typist.

Next morning the three go out onto the moors in search of the mystery object, which Ann’s oscilloscope told them must be Continue reading

Blood (2012)

UK / 92 minutes / color / Momentum, BBC, BFI, IM Global, Quickfire, Lipsync, Neal Street/Red Dir: Nick Murphy Pr: Pippa Harris, Nicola Shindler, Nick Laws Scr: Bill Gallagher Story: Conviction (2004; TV serial) by Bill Gallagher Cine: George Richmond Cast: Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Brian Cox, Mark Strong, Ben Crompton, Naomi Battrick, Zoë Tapper, Natasha Little, Sandra Voe, Jasper Britton, Adrian Edmondson, Danny McEvoy, Elizabeth Lowe, Patrick Hurd-Wood, Stuart McQuarrie, Claire Harris.

Blood - 0 use as opening scene-setter

In a northern English town (unnamed, but in fact West Kirby, Wirral) Lenny Fairburn (Cox) used to run the local police force, and with a fist of iron. Even though he retired long ago, his senile dementia still brings him occasionally into the “office” where he puzzles as to why his desk is now occupied by his replacement, Daniel Telphen (Britton), and brags about the old days when he and his fellows beat confessions out of suspects—or, better, took them out the local islands (Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre Island, all reachable by causeway at low tide) and so terrified them that “they’d confess to shagging their own mothers”.

Blood - 5 Lenny (Cox) struggling with his dementia

Lenny (Brian Cox), struggling with his dementia.

Lenny’s two unalike sons, Joe (Bettany) and Chrissie (Graham), are still on the force, and show little nostalgia for the time when they were working under their dad.

When 12-year-old Angela Drinkle is found dead of multiple stab wounds in a local playground, tensions immediately run high at the police station; everyone, most especially Joe, recalls how, years ago, a rapist had to be released from custody because Joe botched some evidence, and that rapist promptly murdered a woman.

Blood - 1 the murder scene

The original crime scene.

Soon the cops have an ideal suspect for Angela’s murder Continue reading