Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

FILMS I JUST COULDN'T FINISH

Do you ever find yourself watching a film you don't remember and suddenly realize that you've seen it before? Even before Great Old Movies, I kept notes on virtually every movie I had ever seen for years, but at times I'll scratch my head and think to myself: "I saw this before. Why don't I remember it?" The answer is that I never took notes on films I never finished because they were either boring, really bad, or just-okay movies that were simply not my cup of tea. So I wind up watching a movie I never wanted to see all the way through in the first place all over again, sometimes giving up just where I did the last time.

To rectify that I will periodically run these posts listing movies I gave up on and why. These are not out and out reviews -- after all, I haven't watched every second of these films and I skipped or fast-forwarded through parts of them -- so these notes are to be taken with a grain of salt. And please, if somebody has seen a movie on this list that they enjoyed and think deserves a second and/or complete look, let me know!

To begin:

Larry Cohen has done some good movies and some very bad ones, but despite the presence of comic book writer/creator Stan Lee and Young and the Restless star Eric Braeden, The Ambulance (1990) just didn't hold my interest.

I'll look at British actor Paul Massie [The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll] in just about anything -- and try to avoid looking at the rather overbearing James Robertson Justice -- but Raising the Wind (aka Roommates/1961), an English comedy about roommates who are all music students, just didn't work for me.

I wanted to watch 2013's I, Frankenstein as part of a special Frankenstein week on Great Old Movies, but when I realized that this picture had even less to do with Mary Shelley's novel than most Franky films -- the monster gets involved in a war between Lucifer's demons and some demon-hunting gargoyles -- I gave up after twenty minutes. It seemed like just another slick and empty modern-day horror film with CGI visuals. Another Frankenstein (2015), with an actor named Xavier Samuel as the monster, has modern-day scientists crafting a handsome specimen that degenerates and goes on a rampage. The film uses names and concepts from the original but is hardly on the same level; I finally gave up on it.

Bewitched (2005) was a new take on the old TV series with Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell as Samantha and her befuddled fella, who is actually her co-star in a television remake of "Bewitched," in which she essentially plays herself. This actually wasn't totally horrible, and I watched much of it, but I just never had any desire to get back to it. Basically another unmemorable Nora Ephron movie. It may or may not make a difference that even as a kid I wasn't that big a Bewitched fan.

Despite their many differences, I just wasn't gripped by the Spanish-language film The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) nor by its American remake, Secret in Their Eyes (2015), both of which flashed back and forth in time way too much, and seemed both too cutesy and much too contrived.  Neither of them worked for me. I gave up on both after half the running time, flipped forward to the stupid endings, and was glad I hadn't wasted another two hours watching the rest of them.

In Coherence (2013) a group of moderately interesting dinner guests with a comet overhead discover that there's a duplicate of the house -- and everyone inside it -- just down the block. This begins well, but pretty soon just talks itself to death; I watched half of it, got increasingly bored, and gave up. Stretching out a weak, derivative Twilight Zone premise to an hour and a half just didn't work for me.

Grandma's Boy (2006) was an alleged comedy about a not-so-young man who must move in with his grandmother and her two female roommates. During the first half hour or so I admit I laughed once at a vulgar business involving a bathroom and somebody's mother, but mostly this was unfunny and dull, with uninteresting characters and actors aside from the "old" ladies. I gave up on this pretty quickly.

I gave up on Roger Corman's cheapjack imitation of Star Wars, Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) starring a miscast Richard Thomas, after about twenty minutes. It does feature a spaceship with what appear to be massive mammary glands underneath, for those who care.

I gave up on #Horror (2015) about a quarter of a way into the running time as I found the style of the movie to be completely off-putting, and who wants to spend ninety minutes with a pack of annoying "mean girls." A 48 Hours episode that dealt with the true story that influenced this movie was way more gripping.

Ghosts of Hanley House (1968) has the usual group of people trying to stay overnight in a haunted house with a hatchet murderer, but the production values for this are so abysmal I gave up on it pretty quickly. Speaking of horror, I also tried to watched Vampira: The Movie (2006), a documentary about actress and horror host Maila Nurmi, who appeared in the infamous Plan 9 from Outer Space. Although the film features a lengthy interview with the "star" herself, I didn't get past the first third because, frankly, I didn't find Nurmi and her tenuous connection to the likes of James Dean all that  interesting.

More to come, I'm afraid.

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