Author: Craig Zablo

“Parish”: Season 1 (2024) starring Giancarlo Esposito / Z-View

Parish: Season 1 (2024)

Based on: The Driver by Danny Brocklehurst, Jim Poyser
Developed by: Danny Brocklehurst, Sunu Gonera

Director: Sunu Gonera (Eps. 1-2); Laura Belsey (Eps. 3-4); Ernest Dickerson (Ep. 5); Karen Gaviola  (Ep. 6)

Teleplay: Danny Brocklehurst & Sunu Gonera and Theo Travers (Ep. 1); Theo Travers and Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado  (Ep. 2); Ashley Cardiff and Theo Travers (Ep. 3); J. David Shanks & Matt Wheeler (Ep. 4); Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado & Sunu Gonera and Theo Travers (Ep. 5 – story by Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado and Cori Uchida & Adam Lash); Theo Travers & Hanna McIntosh (Ep. 6 – story by Eduardo Javier Canto & Ryan Maldonado)

Stars: Giancarlo Esposito, Zackary Momoh, Paula Malcomson, Skeet Ulrich, Ivan Mbakop, Bonnie Mbuli, Arica Himmel, T.C. Matherne, Currie Graham, Bradley Whitford, Nicholas Logan.

Tagline: The wrong way is the only way out.

The Plot…

Gracián “Gray” Parish (Esposito) wants to be a good man.  This wasn’t always true.  Years ago, Gray was a criminal best known for his skills as a getaway driver.  But when Gray met Ros (Malcomson) he walked away from his gangster friends and never looked back.  They had a son and daughter.  Gray started a taxi/limo service.  Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.

Gray’s 16 year old son was recently gunned down in the street.  The killer never caught.

Then Gray’s best friend, fresh out of prison shows up needing a favor.  Despite his best intentions Gray is pulled in.  When things go sideways, Gray finds himself in the middle of a power struggle between the Tongais, a powerful gang into everything from drugs to human trafficking.  With cops closing in, and unable to trust anyone, Gray discovers his son’s killer may be close.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Well written, well directed and well acted.  Well, I hope we get a season two.

Parish: Season 1 (2024) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Never Let Go” starring Halle Berry – The Teaser & Trailer are Here!

Never Let Go – in theaters September 27! Starring Halle Berry, Percy Daggs, and Anthony B. Jenkins

From visionary director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Crawl) and producers of Stranger Things and Arrival comes NEVER LET GO.

In this new psychological thriller, as an evil takes over the world beyond their front doorstep, the only protection for a mother, played by Academy Award® Winner Halle Berry (Actress in a Leading Role, 2001 – Monster’s Ball), and her twin sons is their house and their family’s protective bond. Needing to stay connected at all times – even tethering themselves with ropes – they cling to one another, urging each other to never let go. But when one of the boys questions if the evil is real, the ties that bind them together are severed, triggering a terrifying fight for survival.

“The Specialist” (1994) starring Sylvester Stallone & Sharon Stone / Z-View

The Specialist (1994)

Director: Luis Llosa

Screenplay: Alexandra Seros based on THE SPECIALIST novels by John Shirley

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Rod Steiger, Eric Roberts, Mario Ernesto Sánchez, Emilio Estefan Jr. and Tony Munafo.

Tagline: The government taught him to kill. Now he’s using his skills to help a woman seek revenge against the Miami underworld.

The Plot…

May Munro (Stone) wants revenge.  When May was a young girl, hidden in a closet, she witnessed Thomas Leon (Roberts) brutally murder her mother and father.  Leon is the son of Joe Leon (Steiger), a notorious organized crime boss.  To get close enough to kill him will be impossible.  So may seduces Ray Quick (Stallone) to do it.  Quick is an ex-CIA demolition expert.  Although reluctant at first, Quick can’t resist May’s charms.  What Quick doesn’t know is that May is playing him… or is she?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Reportedly at one point David Fincher was set direct.  Stallone was on board with Fincher at the helm, but the studio balked due to the box office of Alien 3.

In 1993, The L.A. Times reported that The Specialist was the best unproduced thriller script in Hollywood according to a poll of agents, producers and studio executives.

Sharon Stone plays a character much younger than she was at the time of filming.  Stone was supposed to have witnessed Eric Roberts kill her parents when she was a child.  Roberts is just two years older than Stone.

Sly Stallone wrote the scene where Eric Roberts threatens him with a knife.  He wrote the scene since otherwise they had no scenes together.

The cat that Stallone adopts in the film also would go on to appear in Assassins, another Stallone movie.

It’s no secret that I’m a Stallone fan, so keep in mind your mileage may vary.

The Specialist (1994) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Murder Company” starring William Moseley & Kelsey Grammer – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Who doesn’t love WWII movie?  Here we have the poster and trailer for Murder Company.

In the midst of the D-Day invasion, a group of US soldiers are given orders to smuggle a member of the French resistance behind enemy lines to assassinate a high-value Nazi target.

The film is directed by Shane Dax Taylor from a screenplay by Jesse Mittelstadt.

William Moseley, Pooch Hall, Gilles Marini, Joe Anderson, and Kelsey Grammer star.

Murder Company opens in select theaters, digital and On Demand on July 5, 2024.

“Plan 9 From Outer Space” (1957) written & directed by Ed Wood Jr., featuring Bela Lugosi / Z-View

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957)

Director: Edward D. Wood Jr.

Screenplay:  Edward D. Wood Jr.

Stars: Gregory Walcott, Tom Keene, Tor Johnson, Lyle Talbot, Conrad Brooks, Maila Nurmi, Bela Lugosi, Edward D. Wood Jr. and Criswell.

Tagline: Unspeakable Horrors From Outer Space Paralyze The Living And Resurrect The Dead!

The Plot…

Aliens are worried that humans will produce a doomsday bomb that could destroy the universe.  To stop them, the aliens put into motion Plan 9.  They resurrect the recent dead.  Humans will be so horrified that they will follow the aliens’ directives.  If not, the aliens will use the zombies to destroy them!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Plan 9 From Outer Space is Bela Lugosi’s last film.  Ed Wood and Lugosi were friends.  They had filmed snippets of scenes for an Ed Wood movie in development.  Bela Lugosi died and Ed Wood decided to incorporate these clips into Plan 9.  Wood also used the fact that Plan 9 would be Lugosi’s last film to induce some of the actors to join the project.

It’s funny to note that scenes featuring Lugosi’s character not played by Lugosi were completed by Wood’s wife’s chiropractor.  He was much taller and looked nothing like Bela Lugosi.  So Ed Wood told him to hunch over and always keep the cape in front of his face.  Problem solved.

The film was made on a miniscule budget.  Tor Johnson’s home was used as a location.  Johnson’s son was a San Fernando Police officer.  They got use of the police car and uniforms through him.  The alien’s flying saucer was adapted from a popular UFO model kit.  Bela Lugosi supplied his own cape (from playing Dracula on stage). The gravestones were made of cardboard or styrofoam and can be seen wiggling when actors brushed against them.

Harry Thomas did the make-up for Plan 9.  He become upset and asked his name be removed from the credits.  Thomas wanted the aliens to have elongated chins using appliances he would make, cat’s eye lenses (special contacts) and green hair (wigs). Ed Wood said that those ideas would be too expensive.  Ironically, the year before Henry Thomas worked on Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments which was the most expensive movie ever made to that time.

Plan 9 From Outer Space gained popularity after being named The Worst Film Ever Made.  It is a bad film, but far from the worst ever made.  The low budget, bad script, Lugosi stand-in, wooden performances, outlandish idea for a movie and more make for a humorous viewing, especially with friends.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1957) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“The Green Slime” (1968) starring Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi & Richard Jaeckel / Z-View

The Green Slime (1968)

Director: Kinji Fukasaku

Screenplay: William (Bill) Finger, Tom Rowe, Charles Sinclair, story by Ivan Reiner

Stars: Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi, Richard Jaeckel.

Tagline: The Green Slime are coming!!

The Plot…

Commander Jack Rankin (Horton) and Commander Vince Elliott (Jaeckel) are sent on a suicide mission to destroy a giant asteroid headed for earth.  Although successful, one of the crew members accidentally carries a green slime substance back to the space station.

Soon the green slime transforms into monstrous beings that multiply and kill members of the crew!  If the green slime monsters get back to earth it could be the end of humanity.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Robert Horton, Luciana Paluzzi and Richard Jaeckel were the stars attached.  The rest of the cast consisted mainly of amateur and semi-professional actors.  Many of the monsters were played by school aged children.

Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman, is one of the screenwriters of The Green Slime.

The Green Slime was the first film featured on featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The Green Slime (1968) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Violent City” aka “The Family” (1970) starring Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas & Jill Ireland / Z-View

Violent City (1970)

Director: Sergio Sollima

Screenplay: Sauro Scavolini, Gianfranco Galligarich, Lina Wertmüller, Sergio Sollima, story by Dino Maiuri, Massimo De Rita

Stars: Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas, Jill Ireland and Michel Constantin.

Tagline: CHARLES BRONSON: A murderer whose love for a woman was VIOLENT. TELLY SAVALAS: A man who owns both the woman and the CITY.

The Plot…

Jeff Heston (Bronson) is a hitman who was ambushed and left for dead.  Heston believes he was set up by a former boss.  Now healed and ready for revenge… Heston discovers the person who set him up may have been his lover!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Violent City received a second release in the U.S. but retitled as The Family in an effort to cash in on The Godfather‘s success.

Jon Voight and Sharon Tate were considered for the leads.  At the time Charles Bronson was a bigger star in Europe and just becoming a leading man in the United States.  Bronson agreed to star on the condition that his wife, Jill Ireland would co-star.

Violent City (1970) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Westworld” (1973) written & directed by Michael Crichton, starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin & James Brolin / Z-View

Westworld (1973)

Director: Michael Crichton

Screenplay: Michael Crichton

Stars: Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin, James Brolin, Norman Bartold, Alan Oppenheimer, Linda Gaye Scott, Steve Franken, Michael T. Mikler, Terry Wilson, Majel Barrett, Anne Randall, Charles Seel and Dick Van Patten.

Tagline: Boy, have we got a vacation for you…

The Plot…

In the near future those that can afford it go to an adult theme park named Delos.  Delos is divided into three separate sections: West World, Medieval World and Roman World.  Each world is designed to replicate the eras of their name.  Robots almost indistinguishable from humans populate each world.  Guest interact and act out their greatest fantasies.  Want to be a bank robber in the old west?  Overthrow a king?  Partake in Roman orgies?  You can do all these things and more.

Repeat visitor John Blane (Brolin) and his buddy, first timer Peter Martin (Benjamin) are visiting West World. They’re having a blast.  Until things start to go wrong… very wrong.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I saw West World when it was first released in 1973.  I was 15 and loved it.  I’ve re-watched it many times over the years and still love it. I thought that James Brolin would be the last man standing.  I was so shocked when it turned out I was wrong.

Years after West World Michael Crichton created another amusement park that goes sideways with his novel (and later a film) Jurassic Park.

The film is set in the near future… 1983.

Silent film star, Harold Lloyd’s estate was used for Roman World filming and is listed in the credits!

Alan Oppenheimer plays one of the technicians in charge of the robots.  Oppenheimer in the following year will play Dr. Rudy Wells, in a similar role on The Six Million Dollar Man.

As the robots begin to malfunction and the problem spreads from robot to robot we get one of the first instances of computer viruses!

Yul Brynner’s character dresses almost exactly as the character he played in The Magnificent Seven.

Westworld (1973) rates 5 of 5 stars.