Tag Archive | Celluloid Zeroes

Strait-Jacket (1964)

The Celluloid Zeroes mark the passing of legendary character actor George Kennedy with a roundtable of reviews his movies. Sadly, I found no evidence of his appearance in a spider-themed movie, but wanting to participate I selected a horror film that deserves more attention than it usually gets–just like Mr. Kennedy himself!
Making the title off-kilter is typical of the cheesy but effective approach of the film.

Making the title off-kilter is typical of the cheesy but effective approach of the film.

Written by Robert Bloch
Directed by William Castle
Starring Joan Crawford, Diane Baker, Leif Erickson, John Anthony Hayes, and George Kennedy

William Castle was a man who liked his gimmicks. He’d have theaters rigged with swooping skeletons or buzzers placed under seats. There were glowing coins and votes for how the film should end. But his greatest gimmick may have been casting Joan Crawford as an axe murderer who’s spent 20 years in an asylum. It’s not a glamorous role, but it’s a juicy one; and it’s far better than the usual parts for older actresses at the time (or even now, sadly). With a script by Robert Bloch (author of the novel Psycho was based on), Crawford may have even been optimistic about its reception. Sadly, it would not live up to the incredible What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, which she’d made only a few years previously.

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Ator, the Fighting Eagle (1982)

aka Ator l’invincibile
Directed by Joe D’Amato
Written by Joe D’Amato and Michele Soavi
Starring Miles O’Keeffe, Sabrina Siani, and Ritza Brown

Flames... Burning... On the side of my title credits!

Flames… Burning… On the side of my title credits!

The sword and sandal genre once thrived, with heroes like Hercules and Samson knocking down pillars and wrestling lions. Maybe it died off because other cheap fare was more marketable, or perhaps an audience that had rejected tight shorts on men now demanded their heroes wear pants. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t until Arnold Schwarzenegger donned the loincloth for Conan the Barbarian that buff men running around in their underwear muscled their way back into theaters.

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Summer School (2006)

Do not be fooled by the cast list. Neither Lance Henricksen or Michael J. Nelson had anything to do with this movie.

Directed by Lance Hendrickson, Troy McCall, Mike P. Nelson, Steven Rhoden, and Ben Trandem
Written by Lance Hendrickson, Mike P. Nelson, Steven Rhoden, Pa Chia Thao, and Ben Trandem
Starring Simon Wallace, Amy Cocchiarella, Tony D. Czech, Lance Hendrickson, Troy McCall, and Mike P. Nelson

I do appreciate the 1970s style title.

I do appreciate the 1970s style title.

Anthology movies are always hit or miss. There are only so many minutes in a movie, and each additional story splits the available pot with which to tell a story. Many deal with this by having only about four stories. This allows them to be roughly the length of a half-hour commercial TV episode. Some, like The ABCs of Death, embrace the brevity and present as many thoughts as possible in the hopes that the scattergun will hit. Then too, most have a wrapping narrative to connect the segments. These can be as simple as each title starting with the next letter in the alphabet or as intertwined with the stories as Peter Cushing selling cursed items from his antiques shop.

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