Author: Craig Zablo

“The Gauntlet” (1977) Starring Clint Eastwood / Z-View

The Gauntlet (1977)

Director: Clint Eastwood

Screenplay by:  Michael Butler,  Dennis Shryack

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Pat Hingle, William Prince and Bill McKinney

Tagline:  Clint Eastwood is the man in the middle of The Gauntlet

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Ben Shockley (Eastwood) is a Phoenix cop who drinks too much and does just enough to get by on the job.  So when Police Commissioner Blakelock (Prince) personally choses him to go to Las Vegas to extradite a “nothing witness” for a “nothing trial”, Shockley doesn’t think too much of it.  Gus Malley, the “nothing witness”, turns out to be Augustine Malley (Locke).

Malley claims that she is has information on government officials with mob ties and that she’s been targeted for execution.  She tells Shockley that he was chosen because no one would question him not getting her safely back.  When Shockley and Malley are nearly killed, he realizes she’s right.  Important people with ties to the mob and police have made it their mission to kill Shockley and Malley… and Shockley’s made it his to get her back safely to testify!

Ben Shockley is the opposite of Dirty Harry, but Eastwood is just as convincing in this role.  Gus Malley is played by Sandra Locke, Eastwood’s off screen lover at the time.   Pat Hingle has a small but important role as Shockley’s friend on the force.  William Prince is excellent as the slimy Police Commissioner.  Eastwood puts just the right amount of humor in The Gauntlet.  And how about that Frank Frazetta poster?

The Gauntlet earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Coogan’s Bluff” (1968) Starring Clint Eastwood / Z-View

Coogan’s Bluff (1968)

Director: Don Siegel

Screenplay by:  Herman Miller, Dean Riesner, Howard Rodman  from a story by Herman Miller

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Clark, Tisha Sterling,  Don Stroud, James Edwards, David Doyle  and Albert Popwell

Tagline:  A Prisoner On the Loose, A Cop Over the Edge. This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Them.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Walt Coogan (Eastwood) is a Deputy Sheriff sent to New York City to extradite James Ringerman (Stroud), an escaped murderer, back for trial in Arizona.  What Coogan thought would be an easy pick-up/return, turns into a mess when he learns Ringerman overdosed on LSD and is being held for medical clearance.  Coogan gets no assistance from Lt. McElroy (Cobb) who views Coogan as a “Texas” bumpkin.

Rather than wait for Ringerman to be cleared, or go through the days of paperwork to get an override for extradition, Coogan bluffs his way into the medical unit and gets custody of Ringerman.  On the way to the airport, Coogan is jumped and badly beaten by Ringerman’s crime partners.  With no police support, Coogan makes it his mission to track down Ringerman and get him back to Arizona!

Eastwood was born to play characters like Walt Coogan. Don Siegel and Eastwood make a great team (and Coogan’s Bluff is a nice warm-up for Dirty Harry).  Coogan’s Bluff isn’t a comedy, but there is a nice amount of humor mixed with the action.  Folks who only know David Doyle from Charlie’s Angels will get a kick out of him playing a tough guy.  Coogan’s Bluff was the basis for the hit series McCloud starring Dennis Weaver.

Coogan’s Bluff earns 3 of 5 stars.

Me Time (2016) Starring Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg / Z-View

Me Time (2016)

Director:  John Hamburg

Screenplay by:  John Hamburg

Starring: Kevin Hart, Mark Wahlberg and Regina Hall

Tagline:  This is not what he had in mind.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Sonny (Hart) and Huck (Wahlberg) were buddies who loved to party and push the limits.  But that was 15 years ago.  Sonny is now a stay-at-home dad who takes care of his successful wife (Hall) and two kids.  Sonny volunteers daily at his kids’ elementary school,  He has no time for outside interests.  When Huck invites Sonny to a weeklong celebration, he declines.  Sonny’s wife convinces him that he should take some “me time”.  She’ll take the week off of work and reconnect with the kids while Sonny spends time with his old friend.

Sonny agrees.  It may be the worst week of his life… if he survives.

Me Time goes all out to be funny.  It has its moments, but unfortunately many of them are more gross than funny: pooping in a bucket, pooping on his wife’s boss’ bed, Sonny getting caught by his young daughter as he pleasures himself and sticking his wife’s boss’ cooking utensils down his pants are just a few examples.  Another problem is the things that happen in a scene have no impact once the scene ends.  Sonny is badly clawed by a mountain lion. Audience laughs.  Move on.  Sonny has his hand smashed by a bill collector.  Hand is shown mangled.  Audience laughs.  Move on.  The pranks that Huck and Sonny pull at his wife’s boss’ house should get them arrested.  Move on and have the boss soon become friends with Sonny.

Me Time has a it’s moments.  If you like gross comedy where reality is secondary to jokes and you’re a Kevin Hart fan, then you’ll probably like Me Time better than I did.

Me Time earns 2 of 5 stars.

“It Stains the Sands Red” (2016) / Z-View

It Stains the Sands Red (2016)

Director: Colin Minihan

Screenplay by:  Colin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz

Starring: Brittany Allen, Juan Riedinger and Merwin Mondesir

Tagline:  It NEVER rests. It NEVER sleeps. It NEVER stops.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

A zombie apocalypse has just started.  Molly (Allen) and her boyfriend, Nick (Mondesir) have left Vegas and are driving to a remote desert airfield where friends are meeting to fly to a safe location.  When their car becomes disabled and a zombie kills her boyfriend, Molly has no choice but to attempt to walk across the desert to the airfield still miles away… with the zombie in slow pursuit!

It Stains the Sands Red takes an interesting premise and through dumb / illogical choices of Molly (and the screenwriters), the film becomes less scary and more irritating.  The idea of a zombie chasing you through an area where there are few places to hide, little in the way of weapons and a climate that will wear you down, while the zombie never tires, never sleeps and has no need for food or water is a good one.

Still it would be hard to sustain a feature film where a zombie follows a person for 90 minutes.  To their credit, Minihan and Ortiz add things/people to the mix.  Where the film goes south (for me) is when Molly begins to talk to the zombie and it responds.  C’mon folks!  Zombies are mindless eating machines.  They don’t think, they don’t listen and they don’t respond to commands.

It Stains the Sands Red earns 2 of 5 stars.

“The Land Unknown” (1957) / Z-View

The Land Unknown (1957)

Director: Virgil W. Vogel

Screenplay by:  László Görög based on a story by Charles Palmer, William N. Robson

Starring: Jock Mahoney, Shirley Patterson, William Reynolds, Phil Harvey and Henry Brandon 

Tagline:  Lost and Terrorized in Prehistoric Time.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Commander Alan Roberts (Mahoney), Lt. Jack Carmen (Reynolds), mechanic Steve Miller (Harvey) and reporter Margaret Hathaway (Patterson) take a helicopter to explore an area of warm water in  Antarctica!  When they run into an unexpected storm, low fuel causes them to sit down.  The helicopter is damaged in the landing.  When the fog clears they realize that they are out of radio contact and in a world unchanged since prehistoric times!  Man-eating plants, dinosaurs and something that they never expected to find put their lives in danger.  Will they get the helicopter fixed in time to save them?

The Land Unknown was originally conceived as a big-budget extravaganza.  Prior to filming the budget was drastically cut.  Although filmed in Cinemascope, color was too expensive and all scenes were shot on a back lot.  Children and those old enough to fondly remember low-budget horror films will find enough fun in The Land Unknown.  Viewers not in those categories will see Barney and puppets attacking a toy helicopter.  So be advised your mileage may vary.  For me…

The Land Unknown earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Samaritan” (2022) Starring Sly Stallone / Z-View

Samaritan (2022)

Director:  Julius Avery

Screenplay by:  Bragi F. Schut

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco, Sophia Tatum, Moises Arias, Martin Starr and Jared Odrick

Tagline:  25 Years Ago the World’s Greatest Hero Vanished

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Sam (Walton) is a thirteen year old who lives with his single-parent mother (Polanco) in an apartment in a rough part of Granite City.  Sam’s a latchkey kid since his mom has to put in a lot of hours at work.  Sam spends a good deal of his time researching Samaritan.  Samaritan was a superhero believed to have died twenty-five years ago along with the villainous Nemesis (who happened to be his twin brother!). while they were fighting in a burning building.

Sam has come to think that Joe (Stallone), a garbage man who lives in an apartment across the street is Samaritan!  Despite the mounting evidence, Joe denies he’s the missing superhero.  As Sam comes home one day, some gangbangers jump and begin beating him.  Joe rushes to the rescue, displaying super strength as he runs off the thugs.  Now Sam and Joe are in the sights of the gang led by Cyrus ( Asbæk)… who plan to kill the old man…

Sly Stallone is back!  He’s excellent in the role of Joe/Samaritan and supported by a well-cast group of actors.  Javon Walton is extremely likeable in the role of Sam.  Often child actors have a hard time finding the balance of cute and instead come off annoying.  That’s not the case with Walton.  I expect big things from him in the future.  Pilou Asbæk, Dascha Polanco and Sophia Tatum are also excellent. Asbæk is a great bad guy.  I’d love to see him play an anti-hero in the future.  Polanco and Tatum aren’t given a lot to do, but when they’re on screen all eyes are on them.  I hope to see more leading parts for them in the future.  I enjoyed Julius Avery’s direction.  He’s not flashy, but puts the camera in the right place to maximize drama and/or action.

If you’ve seen the Samaritan trailers, there’s a dialogue change from the trailer to the film which is great for a surprising laugh.  Joe is hit by a car and left mangled in the street, he starts starts to heal and in the trailer Sam asks, “Are you okay?” Joe responds (in pain), “I’m cool.”  In the film the same set-up but this time Joe’s response is, “F*** no.”  I burst out laughing.  That was well-played.

There’s a twist in the film that happens near the end.  I won’t give it away, but will say I absolutely did not see that coming.  I loved it.  The twist took the story up a notch.  As to the Samaritan story itself, some folks are complaining it’s too simple.  I agree, it is simple, but let’s not lose sight that Samaritan is modern day mythology.

Samaritan is a tale of good vs evil.  Another theme is that good and evil live can live in each of us and we have to decide which way we will go.  If you’re okay with a story about super-heroes who happen to be twins… with one being good and the other being evil… that takes place in a town called Granite City… and a young boy who is searching for the missing hero and finds him living basically next door… and the missing super hero now has a job as a garbage man (a person who cleans up the city) but you want a more complex tale, you may be missing the point of the modern mythology that is being created.  Or Samaritan may not be for you.

As for me, I loved the ride.  At first I thought Samaritan would be a movie best loved by younger kids.  But later in the film, it gets darker and then there’s the twist.  I still think teenagers and adults open to this newly created mythology will enjoy Samaritan.  If I was going to pick any nits, it would be the fire cgi used in the extended fight scene at the end.  But why nitpick when Samaritan is such a fun time.  I hope to see a sequel — it certainly opens the door for more movies or a tv series.

Samaritan earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Machine Gun Kelly” (1958) Starring Charles Bronson / Z-View

Machine Gun Kelly (1958)

Director: Roger Corman

Screenplay by:  R. Wright Campbell

Starring: Charles Bronson, Susan Cabot, Morey Amsterdam and Richard Devon

Tagline:  Without His Gun He Was Naked Yellow!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Charles Bronson, in his first starring role, plays Machine Gun Kelly in this fictionalized account of the gangster’s exploits.  Machine Gun Kelly was also the first gangster film directed by Roger Corman and the film that Corman said began to get him respect as a filmmaker.  It was also the first feature film for Morey Amsterdam, who plays the flamboyant Fandango.

Machine Gun Kelly isn’t bad for a low-budget film shot in just eight days.  Reviews were generally good.  There is one unintentionally funny scene that I call Fandango the Escape Artist Who Brought Down Machine Gun Kelly.  If you’re a Charles Bronson fan, it’s definitely worth a watch.

Machine Gun Kelly earns 2 of 5 stars.

“SECTION 8” Starring Kwanten, Lundgren, Mulroney, Adkins, Rourke – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Section 8 has a cast, plot, poster and trailer that has me sold.  Deal me in!

After avenging the murder of his wife and child, a former soldier (Ryan Kwanten) is sent to prison with a life sentence. He’s given a shot at freedom when a shadowy government agency recruits him for an off-the-books assignment. He soon realizes Section 8 isn’t what it seems.

Starring Ryan Kwanten, Dolph Lundgren, Dermot Mulroney, Scott Adkins and Mickey Rourke
Directed by Christian Sesma

“100 Rifles” (1969) Starring Jim Brown, Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds / Z-View

100 Rifles (1969)

Director: Tom Gries

Screenplay by: Clair Huffaker, Tom Gries based on The Californio by Robert MacLeod

Starring: Jim Brown, Raquel Welch, Burt Reynolds, Fernando Lamas, Dan O’Herlihy andHans Gudegast (aka Eric Braeden)

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Joe (Reynolds), robbed a US bank and used the money to purchase 100 rifles which will be used by Yaquis to fight the Mexican army led by General Verdugo (Lamas).  Sheriff Lyedecker (Brown) tracks Joe to Mexico and finally catches up to him in a small Mexican town.  General Verdugo learns of the rifles and thinks Joe and Lyedecker are partners, so he sentences them to death by firing squad!  They escape and join Sarita (Welch) and other Mexican revolutionaries.  But the Mexican army is close behind…

Any movie with Jim Brown, Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds should rate at least three stars.  100 Rifles is the exception to the rule.  The movie lacks real tension.  We see a bit of Reynolds’ loveable rogue film persona, but since he’s the third billed actor there’s not enough to save the film.  Brown and Welch are the stars, but together they lack chemistry.  Their love scenes don’t feel sexy which is surprising since they were two of the hottest sex symbols of that time.  Tom Gries is a competent director who did most of his work in television and quite often 100 Rifles feels like a movie made for tv.

100 Rifles earns 2 of 5 stars.

Samaritan: JoBlo Interviews Pilou Asbæk PLUS Sylvester Stallone On Playing A Superhero!

Exclusively streaming on Amazon Prime Video starting on August 26, Samaritan is a gritty superhero flick that sees Stallone playing Joe Smith, formerly the Samaritan, a super-powered vigilante thought to have died years ago, hiding in plain sight as a normal everyday guy, but is forced to come out of retirement due to crime on the rise! And we here at Joblo are excited to sit down with Pilou Asbæk for an EXCLUSIVE interview, while the great Sylvester Stallone weighs in on his first superhero movie!

The Stolen Jools (1931) / Z-View

The Stolen Jools (1931)

Director: William C. McGann, John G. Adolfi (uncredited), Thomas Atkins (uncredited)

Screenplay by:  (All uncredited) Al Boasberg, Edwin J. Burke, Arthur Caesar, George Arthur Gray, Howard J. Green, Harrison Greene, Percy Heath, Carlisle Jones, Harry Myers, E.K. Nadel, Edgar Allan Woolf

Starring: Wallace Beery, Buster Keaton, Edward G. Robinson, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Our Gang: Farina, Stymie, Chubby, Mary Ann Jackson, Shirley Jean Rickert, Echo, Wheezer, Pete the Pup, Norma Shearer, Hedda Hopper, Joan Crawford, Victor McLaglen, Irene Dunne, Bert Wheeler, Robert Woolsey, Richard Dix, Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Loretta Young, Barbara Stanwyck, Frank Fay, Jack Oakie, Fay Wray, George “Gabby” Hayes, Mitzi Green and Joe E. Brown

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

The Stolen Jools is a comedy short co-sponsored by Chesterfield Cigarettes and used to raise money for the National Variety Artists tuberculosis sanatorium.  The Stolen Jools was distributed by Paramount Pictures but featured movie stars from Paramount, Warner Bros., MGM, Hal Roach Studios and RKO.  After each showing of the short, a theater worker would explain the charity involved and collect donations from those in attendance.

The plot of The Stolen Jools is that Norma Shearer had a huge Hollywood party and afterward her valuable jewels came up missing.  A detective is questioning stars who were there in short comedic scenes.  I love seeing all the star cameos.  I wish we had shorts like this these days — especially to raise money for good causes!

The Stolen Jools earns 5 of 5 stars.

You Were Never Really Here (2017) / Z-View

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

Director:  Lynne Ramsay

Screenplay by:  Lynne Ramsay based on the novella by Jonathan Ames

Starring:  Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts and Ekaterina Samsonov

Tagline:  Bring the hammer.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Joe (Phoenix) is ex-FBI and ex-military.  He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder due to an abusive childhood, as well as his FBI and military experiences.  Joe lives with and takes care of his elderly mother.  These days Joe makes his living brutally righting wrongs.

Joe is hired by a state senator to rescue his daughter, Nina, from the upscale brothel where she is being pimped out. Joe gains entry, killing security guards and men patronizing the underage girls.  He finds Nina and makes it back to the hotel where he is to meet Nina’s father.

While waiting for her dad, they see on the news that her father apparently committed suicide!  Suddenly two men bust in.  One grabs Nina and takes off, while the other attempts to kill Joe.  Joe is wounded, but kills the man.   Joe makes his way home to find his mother murdered and two assassins waiting for him…

You Were Never Really Here might sound like a typical action film where a hero overcomes his personal demons and overwhelming odds to win the day, but it is far from that.  Ramsey takes her time using Phoenix’s acting, quick cut flashbacks, sounds and music to emphasize his trauma.  I liked You Were Never Really Here, as did audiences and reviewers.  I almost gave it 4 of 5 stars, but settled on 3.  You Were Never Really Here might be a film that grows on me.  If so, I’ll update my rating.  For now…

You Were Never Really Here earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Fuzz” (1972) Starring Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch / Z-View

Fuzz (1972)

Director:  Richard A. Colla

Screenplay by:  Evan Hunter based on Fuzz by Ed McBain

Starring:  Burt Reynolds, Raquel Welch, Jack Weston, Tom Skerritt, James McEachin, Bert Remsen, Brian Doyle-Murray, Charles Martin Smith, Tamara Dobson and Yul Brynner.

Tagline:  Here Come The Fuzz

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Fuzz follows cases involving detectives of the 87th precinct.  Detective’s Carella (Reynolds) and King (Skerritt) are looking for whoever is setting bums on fire.  Detective McHenry (Welch) is after a serial rapist.  There’s also a string of robberies in the precinct that has their attention.  Those cases lose their priority when city officials start getting murdered.  All of the 87th precinct’s detectives must work together to find The Deaf Man before he kills again.

Fuzz is supposed to be a comedy.  Sadly most of the humor derives from making the detectives look incompetent.  The scenes in the precinct house reminded me of a bad, bad imitation of Barney Miller, except without the interesting characters and funny jokes.  Check out the poster for Fuzz and if you think it’s bad, you can imagine the movie.  Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch co-star, but she refused to have any interactions on screen with him due to problems on a previous film!

Fuzz earns 2 of 5 stars.