Category: Z-View

“We Want Our Mummy” (1939) Starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

We Want Our Mummy (1939)

Director:  Dell Lord

Screenplay:  Searle Kramer, Elwood Ullman

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Theodore Lorch and Robert B. Williams

Tagline:  Found – in a storm of laughs!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Larry, Curly and Moe are hired to go to Egypt to find the mummy of the famous King Rootin-Tootin.  A quick cab ride to Cario and the boys end up alone in the desert.  While Curly is swimming in a mirage, he accidentally discovers a series of tunnels that may lead to Rootin-Tootin’s mummy.  Although they think they’re alone some criminals are also looking for the mummy and the riches he left behind.  Soon enough it’s the Stooges vs the criminals as mayhem takes center stage.

This was the first Stooges short to use Three Blind Mice as the theme song.  Curly has the best lines:  “I can’t be a mummy, I’m a daddy…” “I got an uncle in Cairo, he’s a chiropractor…” are just two.

We Want Our Mummy earns 4 of 5 stars.

“The 13th Warrior” (1999) Starring Antonio Banderas / Z-View

The 13th Warrior (1999)

Director:  John McTiernan, Michael Crichton (reshoots)

Screenplay:  William Wisher, Jr., Warren Lewis based on Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton

Stars: Antonio Banderas, Diane Venora, Dennis Storhøi, Vladimir Kulich, Omar Sharif, Tony Curran, Clive Russell and Erick Avari

Tagline: Fear reigns.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan (Banderas) is a poet accustomed to a luxurious lifestyle until his affair with a rich man’s wife brings him unfavorable attention from the sultan.  Sent as ambassador to the Northland, Fahdlan encounters a band of Vikings.  During the evening celebration, a message arrives requesting the Vikings’ aide at a Northern Kingdom.  Inhuman beings are attacking and killing even their best warriors.  The things come at night with the mist and appear to be bear-men.  The Vikings ask their shawman to read the bones.  She says the Vikings will be successful if they send 13 warriors… but one must not be a Norseman!  Fahdlan is reluctantly recruited.

When the 13 warriors arrive, they discover that there are truly bear-men creatures coming with the mist. They kill and eat the men and women of the Kingdom.  As the village prepares for an attack, Fahdlan says to one of the Vikings, “But I am not a warrior.”  The Viking’s response: “Very soon you will be.”  Will 13 warriors be able to stand up to such an ancient evil?

I absolutely love The 13th Warrior.  It has a great blend of action/horror with just the right amount of comedic moments.  Banderas is perfect as the lover/poet who finds himself among Viking barbarians.  His disgust for them matches their disdain for him.  Yet, as they get to know each other a mutual respect forms.  The bear-men are terrifying.  There are so many great scenes in this film.  The tension mounts as Vikings die and the bear-men seem unbeatable.  And don’t get me started on how creepy their Queen is.  I’ve watched The 13th Warrior many times and look forward to more viewings.

The 13th Warrior earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Ambulance” (2022) Starring Jake Gyllenhaal & Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Directed by Michael Bay / Z-View

Ambulance (2022)

Director:  Michael Bay

Screenplay:  Chris Fedak based on Ambulancen by Laurits Munch-Petersen, Lars Andreas Pedersen

Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza González, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, Jackson White, Cedric Sanders, A. Martinez and Devan Chandler Long

Tagline: It was supposed to be a simple heist.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Will Sharpe (Abdul-Mateen II), a former marine, is at his wit’s end.  Bills are piling up, his wife needs expensive surgery, they have a new baby and he cannot find a job.  The VA is no help.  With nowhere else to turn, Will meets with his adoptive brother, Danny (Gyllenhaal).  Danny is a smooth-talking criminal that Will distanced himself from when he got married.

Hoping that Danny can provide a loan, Will is instead offered a spot on a huge bank heist Danny has planned for that very day.  Although Will repeatedly resists, Danny talks him into the heist saying that no one is going to get hurt and his cut will more than pay for his wife’s surgery — they’ll be set for life.  Of course the robbery goes sideways and a massive shootout occurs between Danny’s crew and a Special Unit of the LAPD.  Danny and Will make their getaway in a stolen ambulance with a paramedic named Cam (González) and a wounded cop.  With every cop in the city after them and helicopters in the air, Danny and Will want to escape to freedom… but what about the cop and the paramedic that can identify them?

Ambulance starts out well enough.  Jake Gyllenhaal is great as the fast-talking, arrogant criminal.  Yahya Abdul-Mateen II evokes the right amount of sympathy (at least at first) as the former vet struggling to make it. Garret Dillahunt, who is always good, doesn’t have a lot to do, but makes each scene better.  I also enjoyed A. Martinez popping up! Michael Bay is back with his trademark quick cuts and over-the-top action.  And it works… for a while.

Where it goes off the rails for me is that we’re supposed to sympathize with Will’s situation… and we do… at first.  He reluctantly goes along with the bank robbery for his wife and baby.  But when  he takes an active role as the driver of the ambulance and his reckless attempts to get away cause crash after crash, he becomes responsible for the many injuries and deaths he’s causing.  Also, the film runs over 2 hours and 15 minutes.  How many times do we see the ambulance boxed in, surrounded by police with police and television cameras following along… and they get away?  Too many for my taste.  I also thought the ending was a little too pat for my taste.

Ambulance earns 2 of 5 stars.

“The Last Victim” (2021) Starring Ali Larter, Ron Perlman & Ralph Ineson / Z-View

The Last Victim (2021)

Director:  Naveen A. Chathapuram

Screenplay:  Ashley James Louis from a story by Doc Justin, Naveen A Chathapuram

Stars: Ron Perlman, Ali Larter, Tahmoh Penikett, Ralph Ineson, Kyle Schmid, Dakota Daulby and Camille Legg

Tagline: None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Jake (Ineson) taunts then kills a former member of his crew and a woman witness.  He loads the bodies in his truck.  Jake then hooks up with his two other crime partners to transport the bodies to a remote wilderness area.

Susan (Larter) and her husband are driving across country when they run into a closed road.  Rather than double back, they press on.  The pair decide to take a break in a beautiful area well off the beaten path.  Unfortunately they come across Jake and his crew burying bodies.  When Susan and her husband realize they’ve been seen, they take off running with the criminals in hot pursuit.

Meanwhile Sheriff Hickey (Perlman) is investigating the murder scene.  He’s puzzled by the lack of bodies, but does have a clue which was accidentally left behind.  As Jake and his crew continue their hunt, Sheriff Hickey continues his…

The Last Victim has one of the best opening scenes in recent memory.  It’s well written, well cast and well shot.  If the entire movie was made at that level The Last Victim would have rated an “A”.  The Last Victim’s opening scene sets the bar high and sadly the rest of the film doesn’t maintain that level.  Still, if you like crime films, then you should enjoy The Last Victim.  Ali Larter is believable as the woman who refuses to be a victim.  Ralph Ineson steals every scene he’s in.  He’s creepy, cocky and a great villain.  Ron Perlman is always good, even when he doesn’t get a lot to do.

The Last Victim earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Werewolf by Night” (2022) Directed by  Michael Giacchino / Z-View

Werewolf by Night (2022)

Directors:  Michael Giacchino

Screenplay:  Heather Quinn, Peter Cameron

Stars:  Gael García Bernal, Laura Donnelly, Harriet Sansom Harris, Kirk R. Thatcher, Eugenie Bondurant, Leonardo Nam, Daniel J. Watts, Carey Jones and David Silverman

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Five of the best monster hunters alive will participate in a contest to determine the leader of all monster hunters now that Ulysses Bloodstone has died.  The winner will gain the “leader” title, and also the power of the Bloodstone gem.  Surprisingly,  Elsa Bloodstone (Donnelly), Ulysses estranged daughter,  shows up to take part in the contest.  Elsa’s stepmother, Verussa (Harris) warns Elsa against participating, but Elsa refuses to stand down.  It is obvious that there is bad blood between them.

The hunters will all enter a maze to fight each other and a monster that has been set loose in the labyrinth. The hunter that kills the creature wins the contest.  Only Verussa knows the kind of monster that lurks in the maze, but not even she knows which of the hunters is hiding a secret!

Werewolf by Night is a love letter to the classic Universal monsters.  Hats off to director, Michael Giacchino who is best known as a music composer for television and feature films (with over 150 credits on his resume).  After his efforts on Werewolf by Night music may go to the back burner.  Giacchino has great instincts and knows how to create a film that hits, pardon the expression, all the right notes.  Werewolf by Night is moody, full of atmosphere, interesting characters and tension relieved with just the right amount of comedy.

Heather Quinn and Peter Cameron, the screenwriters, were smart to write a modern film with an old school feel.  The film is in black and white which adds to the experience that we’re watching a classic horror film.  The werewolf looks, moves and acts like a man-beast and not a man in a werewolf costume.  I loved Werewolf by Night.  It seems like everyone does.  Werewolf by Night currently has a 7.6/10 rating on IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes shows a rating of 92% with reviewers and 94% with audiences.  As for me…

Werewolf by Night earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Things to Come” (1936) / Z-View

Things to Come (1936)

Directors:  William Cameron Menzies

Screenplay:  H. G. Wells based on The Shape of Things to Come by H. G. Wells

Stars:  Raymond Massey, Edward Chapman, Ralph Richardson and Cedric Hardwicke 

Tagline:  A hundred years ahead of its time.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Things to Come is based on H.G. Wells’ novel The Shape of Things to Come.  Wells reportedly considered the book less a novel than his thoughts on what the next 100 years could hold for mankind.  That’s a big story for any movie, and maybe it’s too big.

The film starts in 1940.  We’re on the brink of another World War.  There are mixed opinions on if the war will happen, but of course it does and rages for over 20 years. Most cities around the world are destroyed.  Technology ceases to advance.  In the 1970s, a city known as Everytown is governed by “the Boss”.  His people live in bombed out buildings and wear tatters for clothes.  One day a modern airplane lands.  John Cabal (Massey), the pilot emerges.  He wears futuristic garb and says that he’s from a community known as Wings Over the World.  He offers “the Boss” a chance to join this community.

Instead “the Boss” takes Cabel prisoner.  When Wings Over the World realizes this, they send an air armada for rescue.  The advanced airplanes drop sleeping bombs.  Once the population is unconscious Paratroopers drop for the rescue.  “The Boss” dies from a reaction to the sleeping gas.  John Cabal announces that “The Boss” and the old world ways are dead.

The movie then has a montage showing the advancements made by the new world order.  Technology makes life better for all.  As plans are made to go to the moon and later the stars, there is a group who see more advancement as bad.  As the astronauts prepare for liftoff, rioters charge to destroy the rocket.  They’re too late to stop the launch.  The movie ends with two characters discussing mankind and progress…

Things to Come bites off perhaps more than it can chew.  Having a story that spans over 100 years with the focus on all of mankind is a tall order.  If this story were to be done today, it would be best served as a tv series. It was interesting to see how H.G. Wells and the filmmakers perceived the future.  The one thing that they got right, was that even when things are going well, there is always a group that finds fault.

Things to Come earns 3 of 5 stars.


The Girl with a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

First sentence…

It was dusk, but as he turned onto the rutted driveway he could make out the perimeter of yellow tape that still circled the property.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

George Foss is having a drink in his favorite tavern with his on-again off-again girlfriend when he sees a beautiful woman seated at the bar.  The woman looks like an older version of George’s first love from his freshman year in college twenty years ago. The first love who suddenly disappeared without a trace.  The first love who may have been a murderer.

It turns out that the woman is truly George’s first love, Liana Dector.  Liana says she’s back because she needs a favor. Liana stole money, a lot of money, from a rich man. The man hired some terrible people to get it back and to teach her a lesson.  Liana wants George to return the cash she has left and ask the man to call off the dogs.  Despite everything, including that Liana could be a cold blooded murderer, George feels compelled to help her.  Maybe he’ll learn why she left all those years ago, if she truly loved him… and if she still does.

George’s decision to help Liana, puts him in way over his head.  Some very bad people now have their sights on George and the police want him for questioning in a murder.  Did Liana set him up or are they both victims?

Peter Swanson has created a roller-coaster ride in the tradition of Double Indemnity or Body Heat.  Swanson has created a page-turner that should satisfy both the mystery lover and noir fan.  The Girl with a Clock for a Heart easily earns 4 of 5 stars.

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart Hardcover
The Girl with a Clock for a Heart Paperback
The Girl with a Clock for a Heart Kindle

“Last Seen Alive” (2022) Starring Gerard Butler / Z-View

Last Seen Alive (2022)

Directors:  Brian Goodman

Screenplay:  Marc Frydman

Stars:  Gerard Butler, Jaimie Alexander, Russell Hornsby, Ethan Embry, Michael Irby, Bruce Altman, Dani Deetté, Brian Scannell, David Kallaway, Alphonso A’Qen-Aten Jackson, Brice Anthony Heller and Robert Walker Branchaud 

Tagline:  He’ll stop at nothing to get her back.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Will Spann (Butler) is driving his wife, Lisa (Alexander) to her parents’ house.  Will and Lisa are going through a rough patch.  Although Lisa cheated on Will, he still wants the marriage to work. She wants time to think things through.  When Will stops for gas, Lisa goes in to get some water.

When Lisa doesn’t return, Will looks in and around the gas station, but Lisa is no where to be found.  The man at the register doesn’t remember seeing her.  Will phones the police, but a woman missing for less than an hour isn’t a priority.  When Will discovers that the man at the register lied about security cameras not working, he discovers that Lisa was kidnapped!  But by who?  And why?  What’s worse is that she was last seen alive with Will!

Last Seen Alive has a few things going for it.  Gerald Butler can carry a film and is believable as a desperate husband willing to do whatever it takes to get his wife back.  Russell Hornsby is a welcome addition, as a cop who may not have Will’s best interests at heart. Jaimie Alexander doesn’t have much to do, but she’s good in her role.  The problem is her character’s not real likable.  It’s hard to see why Will is working so hard to keep the marriage together.

Last Seen Alive runs just 96 minutes, but seems longer.  Part 0f that comes from the scenes with Will driving to/from and at Lisa’s parents’ house.  Then there’s a repeat of a scene with Hornsby that plays at the start of the film and again near the end.  Plus the reason Lisa was kidnapped, and set up to be killed gets intermingled with knuckleheads running a meth lab out in the woods and seems overly complicated.

Last Seen Alive isn’t a bad film.  I liked it, but was expecting better.

Last Seen Alive earns 3 of 5 stars.

“The Lodger” (1927) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock / Z-View

The Lodger (1927)

Directors:  Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay:  Eliot Stannard based on The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

Stars:  Ivor Novello and Alfred Hitchcock

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

A serial killer who calls himself The Avenger has killed seven blonde haired women.  He strikes late at night and police have few clues.

When a tall handsome stranger rents a room from Mr. and Mrs. Bunting, they think nothing of it… until he begins to display some strange habits.  He asks that the pictures of blonde women in his room be removed.  He quietly leaves his room at night and returns before morning.  And what is in the satchel that he keeps locked in a cabinet?  Could their lodger be The Avenger?

Alfred Hitchcock wanted The Lodger to be his first full sound film, but it ended up being his last silent feature.  The Lodger is also the first film to contain one of Hitchcock’s famous cameos!  The Lodger features some animated title cards and inventive shots (the Lodger pacing the floor seen from below as if the floor became invisible; the Lodger descending a spiral staircase and the only thing we see of him is his hand on the banister as he goes down, etc.).  Hitchcock considers The Lodger his first suspense film.

The Lodger earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Stand by Me” (1986) / Z-View

Stand by Me (1986)

Directors:  Rob Reiner

Screenplay:  Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon based on The Body by Stephen King

Stars:  Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Casey Siemaszko, Gary Riley, Bradley Gregg, Marshall Bell, Frances Lee McCain, Bruce Kirby, Richard Dreyfuss and John Cusack

Tagline:  For some, it’s the last real taste of innocence, and the first real taste of life. But for everyone, it’s the time that memories are made of.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

It’s Labor Day Weekend 1959 and four young friends learn the location of the dead body of a missing boy.  Telling their parents that they’re going to a sleepover, the boys plan to secretly walk the 20 or 30 miles to “find” the body and then notify the police.  They believe they’ll be seen as heroes.  What they don’t know is that a group of older thugish boys have the same plan…

Stand by Me is lighting in a bottle — a great adapted screenplay with the right director and a perfect cast.  There’s an old saying, “It’s not the destination, but the journey.”  Stand by Me is proof of that pearl of wisdom.  As the boys travel to see the body, we learn about their lives through emotional incidents of drama, comedy, fear and tension.  Stand by Me should resonate with the 12 year old in all of us.  It’s a classic.

Stand by Me earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Tales of the Walking Dead” Season 1 (2022) / Z-View

Tales of the Walking Dead Season 1 (2022)

Directors:  Ron Underwood (Ep. 1);Michael E. Satrazemis (Eps. 2 – 5);Haifaa al-Mansour (Ep. 4); Deborah Kampmeier (Ep.6)

Writers:  Maya Goldsmith & Ben Sokolowski (Ep.1);Kari Drake (Ep.2); Channing Powell (Eps.3, 5); Ahmadu Garba (Ep. 4); Lindsey Villarreal (Ep.6)

Stars:  Anthony Edwards, Parker Posey, Terry Crews, Danny Ramirez, Olivia Munn, Poppy Liu, Lauren Glazier, Kevin L. Johnson  and Embeth Davidtz

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Tales of the Walking Dead is an anthology series that takes place in the world of The Walking Dead.  Each episode is a self-contained story with no continuing characters.  This series sometimes ventures into different horror subgenres (time-loop, a haunted house/witch, etc.) which is refreshing.  I enjoyed all the episodes, but even if you find one lacking, the next is something different.

My favorites were:

1. “Evie / Joe” starring Olivia Munn and Terry Crews

4 “Amy / Dr. Everett” starring Poppy Liu and Anthony Edwards

5 “Davon” starring Jessie T. Usher

I hope we get a season 2.

Tales of the Walking Dead, Season 1 earns 4 of 5 stars.

“King for a Day” (1934) Starring Bill Robinson / Z-View

King for a Day (1934)

Director:  Roy Mack

Writer:  A. Dorian Otvos, Eddie Moran

Stars:  Bill Robinson, Ernest Whitman and Limehouse Brown

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Bill Green (Robinson) is a talented tap dancer, but Mr. Brown (Whitman) won’t give him an audition.  Green comes up with a plan when he learns that Brown loves to play craps.  It’s a gamble that could make him King for a Day.

King for a Day is a short that has comedy, dancing, and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

King for a Day earns 4 of 5 stars.

“A Gasoline Wedding” (1918) Starring Harold Lloyd / Z-View

A Gasoline Wedding (1918)

Director:  Alfred J. Goulding

Writer:  H.M. Walker

Stars:  Harold Lloyd, ‘Snub’ Pollard and Bebe Daniels

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Harold and a rich man’s daughter are in love and wish to be married, but her father wants her to marry Angus McCheapskate.  A plan is in place and it’s a race to the preacher where there will be two weddings!

A Gasoline Wedding is a Harold Lloyd short.

A Gasoline Wedding earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Spite Marriage” (1929) Starring Buster Keaton / Z-View

Spite Marriage (1929)

Director:  Edward Sedgwick, Buster Keaton (uncredited)

Writers:  Robert Hopkins (titles), Story by Lew Lipton, Ernest Pagano

Stars:  Buster Keaton, Dorothy Sebastian and Leila Hyams

Tagline:  Try and Stop Laughing at Buster!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

When the man that actress Tribly Drew (Sebastian) loves becomes engaged to another, she agrees to marry Elmer Edgemont (Keaton) out of spite.  Tribley believes that Elmer is a millionaire because he attends every showing of her play and he’s always well dressed.  What she learns is that Elmer is a drycleaner who borrows the clothes and spends his pay on play tickets.  Will the rebound marriage work out or will Elmer be taken to the cleaners?

Spite Marriage contains excellent examples of Keaton’s physical prowess at stunts, especially those on a moving sailboat.  It also contains Keaton’s famous act of trying to get his drunk wife into bed.  Keaton had hoped that Spite Marriage would be his first talkie, but instead it became his last silent film.

Spite Marriage earns 3 of 5 stars.

“House of Dracula” (1945) – Starring Dracula, Wolf Man and Frankenstein! / Z-View

House of Dracula (1945)

Director:  Erle C. Kenton

Screenplay:  Edward T. Lowe Jr. from a story by Dwight V. Babcock, George Bricker

Stars:  Lon Chaney Jr. , John Carradine, Onslow Stevens, Martha O’Driscoll, Lionel Atwill, Glenn Strange and
Skelton Knaggs

Tagline: Frankenstein’s Monster … Wolf Man … Dracula … Mad Doctor … Hunchback

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Dracula (Carradine) shows up at Dr. Franz Edelmann’s (Stevens) castle and asks Edelmann to cure him from being a vampire.  Edelmann agrees to try.  Soon after, Lawrence Talbot comes knocking.  Talbot wants the doctor to cure him from being a werewolf.  What are the odds?  As the commercials say, but wait, there’s more!  As the doctor works to cure both Dracula and Talbot, he discovers the Frankenstein monster in mud under his castle!

Doctor Edelmann is using his own blood for the transfusions with Dracula and this is causing the doctor to experience symptoms of vampirism.  Soon enough we have Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein, the mad doctor and his hunchback assistant creating havoc!  Having the top three classic Universal monsters in the same film is every kid’s dream!

John Carradine isn’t my favorite choice for Dracula, but why nitpick when we also get Wolfman and Frankenstein?  Lon Chaney Jr. as Lawrence Talbot isn’t as whiney as normal and that’s a good thing.  Glenn Strange makes a fine Frankenstein.  While House of Dracula isn’t a classic, the kid in you will enjoy it!

House of Dracula earns 3 of 5 stars.