Category: Crime

“Midnight” (1934) aka “Call It Murder” (1947) featuring Humphrey Bogart

Midnight (1934) aka Call It Murder (1934)

Director: Chester Erskine

Screenplay: Chester Erskine

Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Fox, O.P. Heggie, Henry Hull, Margaret Wycherly, Richard Whorf and Granville Bates.

Tagline: One woman was to die at midnight!…another woman was to kill at the same hour…why?

The Plot…

On the night of a woman’s scheduled execution, the jury foreman is having trouble dealing with the verdict.  Then something happens that brings the decision home.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Midnight was originally released in 1934.  Humphrey Bogart was listed 8th in the credits.  Then in 1947, after Bogart became a big star, the film was re-released with the title Call It Murder.  Bogart was given a more prominent role in ads despite his small role.

Richard Whorf who plays Arthur Weldon, would continue acting, but also branch out into directing television and feature films.

Midnight aka Call It Murder (1934) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Doomed to Die” (1940) starring Boris Karloff / Z-View

Doomed to Die (1940)

Director: William Nigh

Screenplay: Hugh Wiley, Ralph Gilbert Bettison, Michael Jacoby

Stars: Boris Karloff, Marjorie Reynolds, Grant Withers, Henry Brandon, Richard Loo, Melvin Lang and Dick Fleming.

Tagline: The master of crime cleans up the dirty game of murder!

The Plot…

Cyrus Wentworth (Lang) was dealing with the aftermath from the fire and sinking of one of his ships.  Four hundred lives were lost.  It’s not a good day.  When William Stelling (Fleming) shows up, they can be heard arguing in Wentworth’s office.  Stelling is the son of one of Wentworth’s competitors and his daughter’s fiancé.

Suddenly a gunshot rings out.  Stelling is seen standing over Wentworth’s dead body. A gun lies near the body.  Police arrive and arrest Stelling.  It appears to be an open-and-shut case.

Then, the famous James Lee Wong (Karloff) is hired to determine the real killer.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The scenes of the burning ship were taken from newsreel footage of a real ocean liner that burned and sunk with tremendous loss of life.

This is Boris Karloff’s fifth (and last) outing as detective James Lee Wong.

Doomed to Die (1940) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“The Sphinx” (1933) starring Lionel Atwell / Z-View

The Sphinx (1933)

Director: Phil Rosen

Screenplay: Albert DeMond

Stars: Lionel Atwill, Paul Hurst, Lucien Prival, Ernie Adams, George ‘Gabby’ Hayes, Wilfred Lucas and Paul Fix.

Tagline: What was the sinister secret of the man who could speak only with his eyes……………?

The Plot…

The main suspect in a murder case is a mute.  The only problem is that the witness at the scene of the crime heard him talking.  Is he a killer or being framed?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

For Lionel Atwell completists only.

The Sphinx (1933) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Assault on Precinct 13” (1976) written & directed by John Carpenter, starring Austin Stoker & Darwin Joston / Z-View

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

Director: John Carpenter

Screenplay: John Carpenter

Stars: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West, Tony Burton, Charles Cyphers, Nancy Kyes, Henry Brandon, Frank Doubleday, John Carpenter and Kim Richards.

Tagline: A cop with a war on his hands. His enemy… an army of street killers. His only ally… a convicted murderer.

The Plot…

After members of Street Thunder, a gang who had stolen assault rifles, is ambushed by LA police officers, the gang is out for retribution.

Lieutenant Ethan Bishop’s (Stoker) first assignment is to take command of a Precinct house that is being closed down.  There are only a couple of police officers and secretaries there.  Then a prison transport bus pulls in.  One of the prisoners is sick.  They want to hold a few of the prisoners, one guilty of killing several men, in the jail cells.  What should be a quiet night is turned upside down when a man comes running in.  He witnessed gang members murder his little daughter and an ice cream salesman.

Now the Precinct house is under attack by the street gang.  They’ve killed the two cops on duty.  The phone lines have been cut and no one will be coming to the rescue.  What chance do Lieutenant Bishop, two secretaries and two convicts have for survival?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

John Carpenter originally titled the screenplay The Anderson Alamo.  He later changed it to The Siege.  No studio was interested in distributing the film until Turtle Releasing Organization.  They changed the title to Assault on Precinct 13.  The is a mistake since the police station attacked is Precinct 9, Division 13.

Assault on Precinct 13 was made on an ultra low budget.  Carpenter wrote and directed from a script that he wrote in eight days.  Carpenter also wrote the film’s score (in just three days).  Using the pseudonym, John T. Chance (John Wayne’s character’s name in Rio Bravo), John Carpenter also served as the movie’s editor.  The film was shot in less than a month.  (Oh, and by the way, John Carpenter also plays one of the gang members killed trying to climb through a police station window.)

Darwin Joston, who is excellent as the killer Napoleon Wilson, was John Carpenter’s next door neighbor.

Charles Cyphers and Nancy Loomis would work with John Carpenter on his next film, Halloween.

Frank Doubleday, the actor who kills the ice cream man and little Kim Richards, would go on to appear as Romero in John Carpenter’s Escape from New York.

Assault on Precinct 13 hit me at a perfect time.  It was one of the first films I discovered after getting a VCR back in 1980.  I loved the movie then and still do.  Your mileage may vary.

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“The Monster Walks” (1932) / Z-View

The Monster Walks (1932)

Director: Frank R. Strayer

Screenplay: Robert Ellis

Stars: Mischa Auer, Rex Lease, Vera Reynolds and Willie Best.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Ruth Earlton (Reynolds) is called back to her childhood home.  Her father has died and the will is going to read.  Ruth and her fiancé, Ted (Lease) arrive on a dark, stormy night.  Ted is introduced to Ruth’s wheelchair-bound Uncle, Mrs. Krug, the strange housekeeper, and her even stranger adult son Hanns.  Oh, and let’s not forget the large ape caged in the basement.

Everyone learns that the estate has been left to Ruth… as long as she is alive.  If she dies it goes to her uncle. Will Ruth make it through the night?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Although posters for The Monster Walks features a huge ape, the movie uses a chimpanzee.

The Monster Walks has the right ingredients (creepy house with secret passageways, dark and stormy night, strange characters, a will leaving the money to one family member as long as they live, an ape) but the end result isn’t as good as could be expected.

The Monster Walks (1932) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Tango & Cash” (1989) starring Sylvester Stallone & Kurt Russell / Z-View

Tango & Cash (1989)

Director: Andrei Konchalovsky, Albert Magnoli (uncredited)

Screenplay: Randy Feldman

Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher, Jack Palance, Brion James, James Hong, Marc Alaimo, Philip Tan, Michael J. Pollard, Robert Z’Dar, Lewis Arquette, Edward Bunker, Roy Brocksmith, Susan Krebs, David Byrd, Richard Fancy, Michael Jeter,  Patti Davis, Billy Blanks, Geoffrey Lewis, Benny Urquidez and Clint Howard.

Tagline: Two of L.A.’s top rival cops are going to have to work together… Even if it kills them.

The Plot…

Detectives Ray Tango (Stallone) and Gabriel Cash (Russell) are two of LA’s top narcotic cops. They have a friendly rivalry and different styles.  They don’t work together but their busts have put a dent in drug kingpin, Yves Perret’s (Palance) operation.

Perret has Tango and Cash framed, convicted and sent to prison.  Now he plans to have them murdered.

If they are to survive Tango and Cash will have to work together, escape prison and find evidence to clear their names.  Let the fun begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Tango & Cash had two directors.  Andrei (Runaway Train) Konchalovsky helmed most of the film. Producers wanted a lighter, funnier film.  Konchalovsky and Stallone felt a serious film with some humor would work better.  Disagreements were constant, but Konchalovsky refused to give in.  This and the movie going over-budget led to him being fired.  Albert (Purple Rain) Magnoli was brought in to finish the film.

Jeffrey (Lethal Weapon 2 & 3) did uncredited re-writes on the film.

Patrick Swayze was originally cast as Cash.  He dropped out to do Road House.

Sly’s character is asked if he stopped for “coffee and a Danish”.  He replies, “I hate Danish.” This is an in-joke as Sly had recently divorced Danish actress Brigitte Nielsen.

Both Brion James and Robert Z’Dar originally had smaller parts, but they impressed enough folks that their roles were expanded.

Geoffrey Lewis has an uncredited cameo.

Tango & Cash (1989) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Your Lucky Day” (2023) written & directed by Daniel Brown / Z-View

Your Lucky Day (2023)

Director: Daniel Brown

Screenplay: Daniel Brown

Stars: Angus Cloud, Elliot Knight, Jessica Garza, Sterling Beaumon, Mousa Hussein Kraish, Spencer Garrett, Jason O’Mara and Jason Wiles .

Tagline: Cashing in will cost you.

The Plot…

Late night at a small convenience store a customer discovers that he has a winning lottery ticket for $156 million.  He makes a big deal about it and everyone in the store hears he has the big winner.  A drug dealer (Cloud) pulls a gun and demands the ticket.  The two argue. A security guard pulls his gun and tells crook to drop his.

The two exchange shots.  The security guard’s shot kills the ticket holder.  The crook’s shot takes out the security guard.  The thug then gathers everyone in the store.  They include a pregnant woman, her lover, and the store owner.  Fearing that they will all be killed, the store owner tells the thug he will never get to cash the ticket.  He reasons that if thug kills them all, there will be no explaining how he got the winning ticket.  If he doesn’t kill them, they could talk.  BUT if he splits the winnings with him, they can help him get rid of the two bodies and come up with a plausible story about the winning ticket.

The best laid plans…

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Angus Cloud was excellent as the drug dealer/robber.  Sadly, he died before the film’s release.

Your Lucky Day (2023) rates 4 of 5 stars.

M. Knight Shyamalan’s “Trap” – The Trailer is Here!

Usually M. Knight Shyamalan’s twists come late or even at the end of his movies.  We learn this one in the trailer… unless there are more.  Trap looks pretty interesting.

A new M. Night Shyamalan experience. #TrapMovie only in theaters this summer.

Listen to original songs from Saleka as Lady Raven:

Warner Bros. Pictures presents a new experience in the world of M. Night Shayamalan “Trap” —featuring performances by rising music star Saleka Shyamalan.

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, “Trap” stars Josh Hartnett, Ariel Donoghue, Saleka Shyamalan, Hayley Mills and Allison Pill. The film is produced by Ashwin Rajan, Marc Bienstock and M. Night Shyamalan. The executive producer is Steven Schneider.

The director of photography is Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (“Call Me by Your Name”). The production designer is Debbie de Villa (“The Hating Game”). It is edited by Noëmi Preiswerk and the music is by Herdĭs Stefănsdŏttir (“Knock at the Cabin”). The music supervisor is Susan Jacobs (“Old”); the costume designer is Caroline Duncan (“Old”). The casting is by Douglas Aibel (“Asteroid City”).

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents A Blinding Edge Pictures Production, An M. Night Shyamalan Film: “Trap.” The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, in theaters only nationwide on August 9, 2024 and internationally beginning on 1 August, 2024.

“Bowery at Midnight” (1942) starring Bela Lugosi / Z-View

Bowery at Midnight (1942)

Director: Wallace Fox

Screenplay: Gerald Schnitzer

Stars: Bela Lugosi, John Archer, Wanda McKay, Tom Neal, Vince Barnett, John Berkes, ‘Snub’ Pollard and Bernard Gorcey.


The Plot…

Karl Wagner (Lugosi) runs a soup kitchen that serves as a front for his many criminal enterprises.  Wagner recruits ex-cons and those who are down-and-out to perform robberies and worse.  Wagner then kills them. He disposes of their bodies in a secret room that leads underground.  His accomplice, a doctor who is also an addict, performs experiments on the cadavers.

As the cops close in, Wagner will go to any extreme to escape.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

At the end the undercover cop played by John Archer is shot and presumably killed.  He is taken by the doctor who we discover has perfected the ability to bring the dead back to life as zombies.  Lugosi’s character is attacked by the zombies when he goes into the basement.  Then the final scene of the movie is John Archer’s character with his love interest.  He appears to be totally recovered from being dead and isn’t a zombie.  Huh?

Bowery at Midnight (1942) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Chamber of Horrors” (1966) starring Patrick O’Neal, Cesare Danova & Wilfrid Hyde-White / Z-View

Chamber of Horrors (1966)

Director: Hy Averback

Screenplay: Stephen Kandel, Ray Russell

Stars: Patrick O’Neal, Cesare Danova, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Jeanette Nolan, Marie Windsor, Wayne Rogers, Charles Seel, William Conrad (voice) and Tony Curtis.

Tagline: The motion picture with the Fear Flasher and the Horror Horn

The Plot…

Jason Cravatte (O’Neal) was convicted of killing a young woman and then forcing a Justice of the Peace to perform a marriage ceremony for Cravatte and his victim.  While being transported to prison, Cravatte escaped by cutting off his own hand.

Now fully healed, Cravatte has replaced his hand with a covering that can hold a hook, a long blade and more.  Cravatte plans to get revenge on everyone responsible for his capture.  That includes the judge who sentenced him, the police officer who caught him, Anthony Draco (Danova) and Harold Blount (Hyde-White) who assisted in the capture.

Draco and Blount own a wax museum with a focus on famous gruesome murderers.  Wouldn’t that be the perfect place for Cravatte to take his final revenge?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I first saw Chamber of Horrors as a kid.  I was probably 9 years old.  I loved the film then and am still a fan.

Chamber of Horrors was originally filmed as a pilot for a tv series.  The network thought it was too violent, so it received a theatrical release.  Sadly no television series was ever produced.  I still think it would make a fun series.

Tony Curtis appears in a cameo that has no bearing on the plot.  When it was decided to release the film as a feature, additional time was needed so the scene with Tony Curtis was added.  Also added were the gimmicks of The Fear Flasher and The Horror Horn which were seen and heard before the most intense scenes.  William Conrad also recorded the warning before the start of the film.

Wayne Rogers plays the young police officer intent on re-capturing Cravatte. This is years before he became famous on M*A*S*H.

Chamber of Horrors (1966) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“Homicidal” (1961) directed by William Castle / Z-View

Homicidal (1961)

Director:  William Castle

Screenplay: Robb White

Stars: Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, James Westerfield, Gilbert Green, Joan Marshall, Ralph Moody, ‘Snub’ Pollard, Hope Summers and William Castle.

Tagline: SPECIAL “FRIGHT BREAK” * There will be a special FRIGHT BREAK during the showing of “Homicidal.” Can your heart stand the challenge when the clock starts the COUNTDOWN?

The Plot…

A woman claiming to be Miriam Webster offers a bellman $2,000.00 to marry her.  She says that they can annul the marriage right after the ceremony.  The bellman agrees.  The next night they go to a Justice of the Peace.  After he performs the ceremony the woman pulls out a long knife and repeatedly stabs him to death.  The woman then runs off into the night.

The police quickly clear the real Miriam Webster (Breslin).  They learn that Miriam and her brother, Warren, are about to inherit a fortune due to their father’s death.  More murders will occur before the secrets that they are hiding will be discovered.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

William Castle was known for his gimmick films.  Three examples include:

  • The Tingler, he had small electric jolts and/or vibrators in some theater seats
  • Mr. Sardonicus, audience members were given glow in the dark cards to vote on the movie’s ending
  • House on Haunted Hill, a flying skeleton flew across the theater

For Homicidal, William Castle had a “Fright Break” prior to the ending of the film.  Audience members too frightened to stay for the end had 45 seconds (a timer appeared on the movie screen) to leave the theater. They would go to the “Coward’s Corner” in the lobby.  There they had to sign a certificate verifying they were indeed a coward.  Very few patrons took up the offer, but it was a great selling point.  THAT wasn’t the best gimmick of Homicidal.  SPOILER ALERT – it will be discussed below.

Homicidal cashed in on the success of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho which was released the year before.

Joan Marshall played both Emily and Warren. Emily was credited as Jean Arless to keep the movie’s gimmick a secret.  In order to convince William Castle she could play both roles convincingly, Marshall showed up dressed as a man for an interview.  She fooled them and won the part.

Homicidal (1961) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“Violence” (1947) / Z-View

Violence (1947)

Director:  Jack Bernhard

Screenplay: Lewis Lantz, Stanley Rubin

Stars: Nancy Coleman, Michael O’Shea, Sheldon Leonard, Peter Whitney, Emory Parnell, Pierre Watkin, Frank Reicher, Cay Forester, Fred Aldrich, Frank Cady and John Hamilton.


The Plot…

True Dawson (Parnell) is a corrupt politician preying on working men and military veterans.  Undercover reporter Ann Mason (Coleman) has the goods to bring Dawson to justice.  As Ann makes her escape, she’s injured in a car wreck and develops amnesia.  If Dawson discovers Ann is the source, he’ll have her killed… and the clues are there.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Although Violence is a run of the mill “B” picture, it’s interesting how the politics played out in the film could come from today.

Violence (1947) rates 2 of 5 stars.