Author: Craig Zablo

Dead Man (1995) / Z-View

Dead Man (1995)

Director:  Jim Jarmusch

Screenplay by:  Jim Jarmusch

Starring:  Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Crispin Glover, Lance Henriksen, Michael Wincott, Eugene Byrd, John Hurt, Robert Mitchum, Iggy Pop, Gabriel Byrne, Mili Avital  and Billy Bob Thornton

Tagline:  Sometimes it is preferable not to travel with a dead man.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

William Blake (Depp), a mild-mannered accountant, travels by train to a small town on the edge of the frontier.  There he meets a prostitute named Thel (Avital) who takes him home.  The next morning Thel’s ex-boyfriend, Charlie (Byrne) confronts Blake and Thel while they’re still in bed.  Charlie shoots at Blake.  The bullet hits (and kills) Thel and then strikes Blake in the chest when the bullet passes through her.  Blake picks up Thel’s gun and kills Charlie.  Blake then hightails it out of town.

Although he escaped into the wilderness, Blake’s chest wound is serious.  He passes out.  When he comes to he is surprised to find a huge Native American named Nobody (Farmer) standing over him.  Nobody says that the bullet is too close to his heart to be removed.  Blake is a walking dead man.  Nobody says he will help Blake prepare for his journey back to the spiritual world.  Along the way Blake has run-ins with many unusual characters including the three notorious killers hired by Charlie’s dad (Mitchum) to avenge his son’s murder.

Jim Jarmusch brought together an all-star cast to tell a strange, almost mesmerizing tale,  Dead Man was shot in black and white, with fadeouts after each scene enhanced by an improvised Neil Young soundtrack.  Truth be told, I started to watch Dead Man years ago and couldn’t get into it.  This time, I loved every minute.  Dead Man earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Paradise Highway” Starring Juliette Binoche, Morgan Freeman & Frank Grillo – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster and trailer for Paradise Highway are here.  I like the looks of this one.

Academy Award® winners Juliette Binoche and Morgan Freeman lead this riveting thriller set in the trucking industry and its seamy underbelly of human trafficking. To save the life of her brother (Frank Grillo), Sally (Binoche), a truck driver, reluctantly agrees to smuggle illicit cargo: a girl named Leila (Hala Finley). As Sally and Leila begin a danger-fraught journey across state lines, a dogged FBI operative (Freeman) sets out on their trail, determined to do whatever it takes to terminate a human-trafficking operation — and bring Sally and Leila to safety.

“What Joshua Saw” Starring Robert Patrick & Nick Stahl – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

The poster and trailer for What Joshua Saw do what they should do… make me want to know more!

A family with buried secrets reunite at a farmhouse after two decades to pay for their past sins. Starring Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Scott Haze, Kelli Garner, with Jake Weber and Tony Hale. Directed by Vincent Grashaw.

“Attack of the Puppet People” (1957) / Z-View

Attack of the Puppet People (1957)

Director:  Bert I. Gordon

Screenplay by:  George Worthing Yates from a story by Bert I. Gordon

Starring:  John Agar, John Hoyt and June Kenney

Tagline:  Terror Comes In Small Packages!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Mr. Franz (Hoyt) owns a doll company that makes popular, lifelike dolls.  Little does anyone know that Mr. Franz’s personal doll collection is made from real people that he has shrunk to doll size.  When Mr. Franz’s secretary, Sally Reynolds (Kenney) discovers what Franz has been doing, she goes to the police.  Of course they don’t believe Franz is doing anything wrong,.. until Sally turns up missing and Franz has a new doll in his collection!

Attack of the Puppet People was given the greenlight due to the success of The Incredible Shrinking Man.  It was rushed into production with Bert I. Gordon (The Amazing Colossal Man) at the helm.  Fair warning,  if the poster for Attack of the Puppet People sold you on the movie, please know… 1) They weren’t really puppet people.  2) There were no “Doll Dwarfs”. 3) No “giant beasts” were crushed or did crushing. 4) No giant dog vs steak knife wielding little folks… Just so ya know.

Attack  of the Puppet People earned a 2 of 5 star rating.

“The Deadly Mantis” (1957) / Z-View

The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Director:  Nathan Juran

Screenplay by:   Martin Berkeley based on a story by William Alland

Starring:  Craig Stevens, William Hopper and Alix Talton

Tagline: The most dangerous monster that ever lived!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

When volcanic eruptions set a gigantic prehistoric preying mantis free, the world becomes his buffet.  It is up to Col. Joe Parkman (Stevens), Dr. Nedrick Jackson (Hopper) and Marge Blaine (Talton) to find a way to stop this giant insect.

Documentary footage of Eskimos and jets taking off make poor filler footage.  The giant praying mantis looks good in scenes where it is busting into a building, but not so good when flying.  This viewing didn’t rate as high as the first time I saw The Deadly Mantis.  Of course I’m no longer eight.  The Deadly Mantis rates 2 of 5 stars.

FOLLOW ME DOWN: A RECKLESS BOOK by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips is Coming!

The next Reckless book, Follow Me Down by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is set for release on October 18, 2022.  It sounds like another winner…

In the wake of the 1989 earthquake, Ethan takes a trip to San Francisco to search for a missing woman. But almost immediately he finds himself going down a path of darkness and murder in her wake, in a case unlike anything he’s faced before.
FOLLOW ME DOWN is the most intense of the Reckless books so far, and yet another hit from the most-acclaimed team in comics, creators of PULP, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, CRIMINAL, THE FADE OUT, and KILL OR BE KILLED. A must-have for all Brubaker and Phillips readers!

Like with all of Brubaker & Phillips’ books, deal me in!  If you feel the same pre-orders are available now!

“Day Shift” Starring Jamie Foxx – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

I like the poster and the trailer for Day Shift looks like fun.  Deal me in.

Jamie Foxx stars as a hard working blue collar dad who just wants to provide a good life for his quick-witted daughter, but his mundane San Fernando Valley pool cleaning job is a front for his real source of income, hunting and killing vampires as part of an international Union of vampire hunters. #DayShift #Netflix

RELEASE DATE: August 12th on Netflix

CAST: James Franco, Snoop Dogg, Dave Franco

“The Thing” (82) / Z-View

The Thing (1982)

Director:  John Carpenter

Screenplay by:  Bill Lancaster based on a short story by John W. Campbell Jr.

Starring:  Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David, Richard Masur,  T.K. Carter, David Clennon, Richard Dysart, Charles Hallahan,  Peter Maloney, Donald Moffat, Joel Polis, Thomas G. Waites and Adrienne Barbeau (uncredited computer voice)

Tagline:  Man is The Warmest Place to Hide.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Members of a US Antarctica research station go on full alert when a Norwegian helicopter begins buzzing their outpost.  One of the Norwegians is shooting at a husky that’s running towards the American station.  The helicopter lands and more shots ring out missing the dog and nearly hitting members of the US team. Garry (Moffat) shoots back, killing the Norwegian.  A fire caused by wild shots leads to the explosion of the helicopter and death of the pilot.

MacReady (Russell) and Dr. Copper (Dysart) fly to the Norwegian base.  Everyone there is dead! MacReady and Copper discover a disfigured burned vaguely human-looking corpse.  MacReady and Copper return to the US base with the corpse and more questions than answers.

The Norwegian dog had been given free reign at the US base.  When MacReady returns the dog is placed in a kennel with the US huskies.  Once the lights are out, the Norwegian dog begins to transform as it kills the US dogs and assimilates them.  The dogs’ screams alert the base and everyone shows up.  They’re shocked, but use a flamethrower to incinerate the thing.

They ultimately learn that the Norwegians discovered an alien ship.  One of the creatures from the ship thawed and began killing them.  It made it’s escape in the form of the Norwegian dog.

Dr. Blair runs computer simulations and realizes odds are that at least one of the US team has been assimilated.  The computer also shows that if one of the things makes it to civilization, humans will be wiped out.

Dr. Cooper suggests a blood test to determine if anyone has been compromised.  Before that can happen, the blood supply is destroyed, as are every means of communication and the transportation.  At least one of the US team is no longer human.  But who?

As they struggle for a solution, the lack of sleep and paranoia makes each person as much of a danger as the thing.  Will anyone survive?  And what of the human race?

Bill Lancaster’s script is closer to John Campbell’s short story than the 1951 film.  Everything comes together.  John Carpenter is the right director for this project — he respects the source material.  He’s supported by a wonderful cast led by Kurt Russell, and each cast member gets their moment to shine.  Stan Winston’s effects were groundbreaking for the time and still impress.  Ennio Morricone provides music that adds to the tension.

When I saw The Thing on it’s original release, the theater was nearly empty.  Over the years, The Thing developed a following and the props it deserves.  My initial rating for The Thing was 4 of 5 stars, but over the years, I’ve bumped it up to a more proper 5 of 5 stars.

“Desperate” (1947) / Z-View

Desperate (1947)

Director:  Anthony Mann

Screenplay by:  Harry EssexMartin Rackin (additional dialogue), Dorothy Atlas (story)

Starring:  Steve Brodie, Audrey Long and Raymond Burr

Tagline:  Desperate was their nightmare of FEAR!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Steve (Brodie) and Anne Randall (Long) are ready to celebrate their wedding anniversary when Steve gets a call from a man named Walt Radak (Burr) about a trucking job.  Since they need the money, they decide to postpone the celebration until Steve gets back.

When Steve arrives at the warehouse, he learns that Radak and his crew are thieves who want him to haul stolen property.  Steve refuses, but is forced at gunpoint back into the truck.  As the crooks load the goods, Steve is able to signal a cop walking by.  A shootout ensues.  The cop is shot and killed as everyone scrambles to get away.  Only Radak’s brother is caught.

Steve returns home, gets his wife and they go on the run.  Steve needs to prove his innocence since the cops think he’s part of the cop killer gang.  Radak blames Steve for the bungled robbery and his brother’s capture.  Steve is on the run and desperate…

Desperate is the first and only feature film to star Steve Brodie (which is surprising).  It is also Raymond Burr’s first time playing the lead heavy.  Desperate is a good film noir and rates 3 of 5 stars.

RIP: L. Q. Jones

L.Q. Jones born Justus Ellis McQueen Jr. died today from natural causes at the age of 94.

After serving in the Navy, LQ went to college, worked as a stand-up comedian, played a little pro-football and pro-basketball and even did some ranching.  A letter from his old college roommate, (actor) Fess Parker, encouraged Mr. Jones to give acting a try.

Jones’ first role was in 1955’s Battle Cry where he was billed under his given name, Justus E. McQueen.  The character he played in Battle Cry was named LQ Jones!  He liked the name so much he took it as his stage name for the rest of his career!  LQ never looked back.  He stayed busy alternating between television and feature films for the rest of his career.

Television highlights include: Cheyenne, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The Rebel, Death Valley Days, The Rifleman, Lassie, Ben Casey, Have Gun – Will Travel, Route 66, Laramie, Perry Mason, Wagon Train, Branded, Rawhide, My Favorite Martian, Hondo, The Big Valley, Hawaii Five-O, The Virginian (semi-regular), The FBI, Gunsmoke, Alias Smith and Jones, Assignment: Vienna, Ironside, Kung Fu, McCloud, CHiPs, Columbo, The Incredible Hulk, Vega$, Charlie’s Angels, The Dukes of Hazard, The Fall Guy, Walker Texas Ranger and Renegade.

Some of the feature films with LQ Jones: Battle Cry, The Naked and the Dead, Cimarron, Flaming Star, Ride the High Country, Major Dundee, Hang ‘Em High, The Wild Bunch, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, White Line Fever, Casino, The Mask of Zorro and Route 666.

I probably first saw LQ Jones when he appeared in multiple episodes of Cheyenne.  Of course Mr. Jones stayed so busy on so many shows that I watched, it may have been one of the others on his resume.  Since I enjoyed his role as Cheyenne Brodie’s friend, we’ll go with that though.  As for his feature films, you could always count on him to have a role in most Sam Peckinpah films.  When LQ Jones’ name is mentioned, White Line Fever is one I think of right after The Wild Bunch.  Whenever LQ showed up, you were in for a treat!

Our thoughts and prayers go out to LQ Jones’ family, friends and fans.

“G-Men” (1935) Starring James Cagney / Z-View

G-Men (1935)

Director:  William Keighley

Screenplay by:  Darryl F. Zanuck, Seton I. Miller (uncredited) based on the novel Public Enemy No. 1 by Gregory Rogers

Starring:  James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak, Robert Armstrong and Lloyd Nolan

Tagline: Hollywood’s Most Famous Bad Man Joins the “G-MEN” and Halts the March of Crime!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers

Because he won’t play ball with crooks, Brick Davis (Cagney) isn’t making it as a lawyer.  So when Brick’s recruited to join the FBI, he does.  We then follow Brick through training and his efforts to bring down a crime syndicate.

Cagney’s star power is evident in this pretty much by the numbers outing.  With that said,  G-Men rates 3 of 5 stars.