Category: Z-View

“Son of Frankenstein” (1939) starring Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone & Bela Lugosi / Z-View

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

Director:  Rowland V. Lee

Screenplay: Wyllis Cooper based on characters created by Mary Shelley

Stars: Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill and Josephine Hutchinson.

Tagline: AFTER 20 YEARS Driven by the same crazy ambition that made his father create the terrifying monster that stalks in the night! See his juggernaut of destruction loosed upon the world!

The Plot…

Baron Wolf von Frankenstein (Rathbone), son of Henry Frankenstein, has brought his wife and young son back to live in Castle Frankenstein.  Baron hopes to rebuild the family reputation, but is surprised to find that the villagers still harbor deep resentment.  The haven’t forgotten the murders and destruction brought about by his father’s creation.

Wolf meets Ygor (Lugosi), a strange, deformed man who survived being hung for robbing graves.  When Ygor shows Wolf that his father’s creation lies in a coma below the castle, Wolf decides to revive the creature.  The operation is a success.  Sadly the creature will on follow the commands of Ygor.  Unknown to Wolf, Ygor has scores that he plans to settle using the monster.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Director Rowland V. Lee felt that producers had low-balled Bela Lugosi’s salary.  Since the script wasn’t complete as filming started, Lee continued to pad Lugosi’s part.  This increased Lugosi’s pay and created one of his best non-Dracula roles.

Surprisingly, this is the first Frankenstein film that shows the electrodes in the monster’s neck being hit with electricity to bring him to life.

Son of Frankenstein (1939) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“The Mad Ghoul” (1943) / Z-View

The Mad Ghoul (1943)

Director:  James P. Hogan

Screenplay: Brenda Weisberg, Paul Gangelin, Hanns Kräly

Stars: David Bruce, Evelyn Ankers, George Zucco, Robert Armstrong, Turhan Bey, Charles McGraw and Milburn Stone.


The Plot…

Dr. Morris (Zucco) has had success in experimenting with an ancient Mayan gas that makes those exposed to it, obedient and without a will of their own.  When Dr. Morris learns that his lab assistant’s girlfriend, Isabel (Ankers) loves another man, Morris believes it to be him.  Then Morris learns Isabel loves the handsome, Eric Iverson (Bey).

Dr. Morris decides to use the gas on his lab assistant.  Morris will then compel his assistant to kill Iverson.  Then Morris will have Isabel to himself.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

One of the rare times that the wisecracking reporter who breaks the case gets murdered.

The Mad Ghoul (1943) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Lawman: Bass Reeves” – Season 1 (2023) starring David Oyelowo / Z-View

Lawman: Bass Reeves – Season 1 (2023)

Created by: Chad Feehan

Director: Christina Alexandra Voros (eps. 1-3, 7 & 8); Damian Marcano (eps. 4-6)

Screenplay: Chad Feehan (ep.1 & 8); Jewel Coronel (ep.2); Jacob Forman & Ning Zhou (ep. 3); J. Todd Scott (ep.4); Terence Anthony (ep.5); Jacob Forman (ep.6); Chad Feehan & K.C. Scott (ep.7)

Stars: David Oyelowo, Lauren E. Banks, Demi Singleton, Forrest Goodluck, Barry Pepper, Dennis Quaid, Grantham Coleman, Shea Whigham and Donald Sutherland.

Tagline: Some legends are true.

The Plot…

Dramatization of the life of Bass Reeves.

Bass Reeves was born a slave, escaped to freedom and became one of the first black Deputy US Marshalls. Over his 30 plus years as a Deputy U.S. Marshal, Reeves arrested approximately 3,000 felons.  He killed 14 men without ever being shot himself.  He was smart, fearless and relentless.

It’s time his story was told.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Way back in 2013, I did a post called The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves.  At that time I called for a movie or tv series about Bass Reeves.  I’m happy to report that Lawman: Bass Reeves was worth the wait.  Everything about the series is first rate.

The writing and direction are top notch.  All of the characters are well cast.  David Oyelowo who plays Bass Reeves was nominated for a Critics Choice and Golden Globe Award.  He deserves every honor available – he’s amazing in this role.  Dennis Quaid and Barry Pepper have never been better.  Let’s not forget to mention the talents of Lauren E. Banks, Demi Singleton and Shea Whigham.

Bring on season 2.

Lawman: Bass Reeves – Season 1 (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Bye Bye Barry” (2023) / Z-View

Bye Bye Barry (2023)

Director:  Paul Monusky, Micaela Powers. Angela Torma

Stars: Barry Sanders, Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Eminem, Jemele Hill, Calvin Johnson, Dan Patrick, Rodney Peete, Jalen Rose, Emmitt Smith and Bill Belichick.

Tagline: The Greatest Mystery in Sports History.

The Plot…

Barry Sanders played college football for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.  In his junior year, Sanders rushed for 2,628 yards and 37 touchdowns in just 11 games.  He was a unanimous choice for the All American team and he won the Heisman Trophy.

The following year, Barry Sanders went into the NFL draft and was selected by the Detroit Lions.  Sanders made an immediate impact and was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.  Barry Sanders went on to play ten years for Detroit.  He led the league in rushing four times and in rushing touchdowns once.  Barry Sanders was selected for the Pro Bowl every year that he played.  He was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player (1997), the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year (1994, 1997), and led the league in rushing touchdowns (1991).

Barry Sanders had earned 15,269 rushing yards (the most ever by any NFL player in a 10-year span).  He was just 1,457 rushing yards short of Walter Payton’s career rushing record.  Fans everywhere knew that if Sanders had a healthy year, he would become the new NFL rushing king.  But just one day before the Lions opened their training camp, Barry Sanders announced his retirement.

By a fax.

Barry Sanders was healthy and in the prime of his career.  Yet, he walked away from his multimillion dollar contract and never looked back.


Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Barry Sanders is arguably the best running back to ever play the game.  He was humble and cared more about the team than individual records.  Although I’m a lifelong Chicago Bears fan, I always enjoyed watching Barry Sanders play.  He was so good.  And so likeable.

After watching Bye Bye Barry, I found reasons to admire him even more.

Bye Bye Barry (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Finestkind” (2023) written & directed by Brian Helgeland, starring Ben Foster, Toby Wallace, Jenna Ortega & Tommy Lee Jones / Z-View

Finestkind (2023)

Director:  Brian Helgeland

Screenplay: Brian Helgeland

Stars: Ben Foster, Toby Wallace, Jenna Ortega, Tommy Lee Jones, Ismael Cruz Cordova, Lolita Davidovich, Clayne Crawford, Meghan Leathers, Celeste Oliva and Tim Daly.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Charlie (Wallace) and Tom (Foster) are half-brothers.  They have the same mother, but different fathers.  Because of this, they come from opposite worlds.  Charlie’s father is a rich attorney.  Tom’s dad is a working class fisherman.  At one time Charlie and Tom had a great relationship. But they drifted apart.

Now that Charlie’s graduated college he wants to spend the summer fishing with Tom.  Despite some bad luck at first, Charlie’s summer is looking up.  He and Mabel (Ortiz) have hit it off.  Tom and his fishing crew have accepted him.  Now if Tom and his dad could just patch up their differences.  Things go sideways when Tom gets greedy.

Really sideways.  Losing Tom’s dad’s boat bad.

So they decide to do a “one-time” drug deal.  What they don’t know is that someone has a plan of their own.  One that will lead to betrayal and murders.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I’m a Brian Helgeland fan.  As a writer we can thank him for L.A. Confidential, Man on Fire, Mystic River, Assassins, Payback and more.  He also directed films such as Payback and 42.  With Finestkind, Helgeland served as both screenwriter and director.

Finestkind doesn’t follow the typical Hollywood screenplay format.  Some reviewers have complained that Finestkind can’t decide if it’s a family drama or a crime story.  I find that a silly complaint. The guy who wrote it, directed it.  He knew exactly what he wanted, a family drama that involves a crime story.  Others have nitpicked that the movie takes too long to get to the crime, twists and action.  I like that Finestkind doesn’t follow the expected movie timeline.

Helgeland takes his time.   We come to understand the characters, their lives and the choices they’ve made. Helgeland is supported by an excellent cast.  Tommy Lee Jones is always great and I’d put his performance here near the top of his resume.  Ben Foster always delivers.  Jenna Ortega is a powerhouse.  The camera and audiences love her.  With good reason.  Toby Wallace is new to me, but I’ll be watching for his future films.  Kudos to Clayne Crawford for a smaller but important role.  He nails it.

Finestkind (2023) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“The Lair” (2022) / Z-View

The Lair (2022)

Director:  Neil Marshall

Screenplay: Neil Marshall, Charlotte Kirk

Stars: Charlotte Kirk, Jonathan Howard and Neil Marshall.

Tagline: Unlocked. Unleashed.

The Plot…

Shot down in Afghanistan, Royal Air Force pilot Captain Kate Sinclair (Kirk) is attacked by enemy forces.  Gunfire forces Sinclair to break into an abandoned underground bunker.  Sinclair’s battle with the enemy awakens deadly creatures that begin attacking.  She survives and is picked up by a unit stationed near the bunker.

Sinclair is unable to convince the soldiers that the monsters exist.  That’s about to change since the creatures have tracked her to the camp.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Director Neil Marshall is hit or miss for me.  Hits include Dog Soldiers and The Descent.  Doomsday and Hellboy fall into the latter category.  Unfortunately so does The Lair.

The Lair starts off well enough.  It has an interesting plot.  There’s action galore.  The acting is okay.  It goes off the rails when the creatures begin shooting tentacles out of their eyes and mouths.  If you’re looking for a way to spend a mindless hour and 37 minutes, then The Lair may fit the bill.

The Lair (2022) earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Stamped from the Beginning” (2023) / Z-View

Stamped from the Beginning (2023)

Director: Roger Ross Williams

Writer: Ibram X. Kendi, David Teague

Stars: Ibram X. Kendi, Angela Davis.

Tagline:  None.

The Plot…

Stamped from the Beginning is based on Ibram X. Kendi’s book of the same name.  Both explore the racist tropes, symbols and imagery ingrained in American culture throughout history.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Often we get documentaries that are padded to fill out 4 or more episodes.  Stamped from the Beginning clocks in at a brisk 85 minutes.  The history of racism in the United States exploring racist tropes, symbols and imagery almost certainly could use a season (or more) of episodes.  With that said, this documentary is informative in a fashion that keeps the viewer watching.  I learned some facts and information about history (and historical figures) that were new to me.

Stamped from the Beginning (2023) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Master of Dark Shadows” (2019) / Z-View

Master of Dark Shadows (2019)

Director:  David Gregory

Stars: Dan Curtis, Nancy Barrett, Ben Cross, Roger Davis, Jonathan Frid, Ian McShane, William F. Nolan, Lara Parker, David Selby, Barbara Steele and Whoopi Goldberg.

Tagline:  The Gothic World of Dan Curtis

The Plot…

Dan Curtis’ soap opera, Dark Shadows, was scheduled for cancellation in six weeks.  When Curtis was told this, he decided to take his traditional daytime melodrama in a new direction,  He added a vampire!  Surprisingly the show soared to the top of the ratings.  Kids and young adults made it must-see tv and the show was saved.  Dark Shadows ended up running for six seasons.  Spin-offs included two feature films, comic books, trading cards, board games and more.

Although Dan Curtis became best known for films in the horror genre he wanted to break out into other genres.  Master of Dark Shadows is his story.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Dan Curtis produced and directed the two Dark Shadows feature films.  He also wrote the second.  Then when the series ended, Dan Curtis was considered the go-to guy for horror.  He produced The Night Stalker. It became the highest rated tv movie of its time.  Curtis followed that up by producing and directing The Night Strangler, The Norliss Tapes, Scream of the Wolf, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Turn of the Screw, Trilogy of Terror, Burnt Offerings, Dead of Night and Curse of the Black Widow.  Although Dan Curtis did produce and direct other films, he was still best known for horror.

That all changed when Curtis produced and directed the television adaptation of Herman Wouk’s Winds of War.  The seven episode mini-series became the highest rated television event of its time.  The series was nominated for eleven Emmy Awards, winning three (Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special; Outstanding Individual Achievement – Costumers; Outstanding Individual Achievement – Special Visual Effects).

Dan Curtis followed with War and Remembrance, a continuation of Winds of War. War and Remembrance received 15 Emmy Award nominations.  It won for best miniseries, special effects, and single-camera production editing.

I’m happy that Dan Curtis was able to break out from the horror genre and make big budget, award winning projects.  But the truth of the matter is, I will always remember the thrill of running home from school to catch the latest adventures of Barnabus and Quentin Collins.  Five days a week on Dark Shadows we got vampires, werewolves, and a taste of horror.  I read the novelizations, comic books, collected the cards and saw the feature films.  The excitement we had as kids talking about Dark Shadows is a highlight of this kid’s elementary years.

If you’re of the right age, Master of Shadows will take you back to that time.  If you’re too young, then you’ll get a taste of something that will never be replicated.

Master of Dark Shadows (2019) earns 5 of 5 stars.

The Three Stooges Shorts: My Thoughts & Trivia After Viewing Them All!

When I was a little kid, I loved watching The Three Stooges shorts on television.  I was the perfect age for their slapstick antics.  At the time, I thought it would be cool to view every Three Stooges Short ever made.  Who knew that 6 decades later I’d finally complete the mission.

During the past year (and maybe a little longer), I watched all 190 Three Stooges’ shorts. Mission accomplished.  Every Stooges’ short is now Z-Viewed and posted.  My viewing resulted in some trivia…

Years with the most Stooges’ shorts released:

1943 – 10 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1940 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1946 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1948 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Shemp
1950 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Shemp
1953 – 9 starring Moe, Larry & Shemp

Years with the fewest Stooges’ shorts released:

1959 – 2 starring Moe, Larry & Joe
1933 – 4 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1945 – 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly

Years that I rated the most 5 stars to Stooges’ shorts:

1938 – 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1943 – 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1940 – 4 starring Moe, Larry & Curly

Highest Average Rating for Stooges’ shorts released

1938 – 4.5 out of 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1943 – 4.4 out of 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly
1940 – 4.3 out of 5 starring Moe, Larry & Curly

Lowest Average Rating for Stooges’ shorts released

1958 – 2.67 starring Moe, Larry & Joe
1957 – 2,75 starring Moe, Larry & Joe
1959 – 3.0 starring Moe, Larry & Joe

From my ratings it becomes clear that my favorites were the shorts featuring Curly.  It could be because Moe, Larry and Curly were the trio of knuckleheads that I first discovered.  It could also be because Curly was my favorite Stooge for years.

Still is.

But I also enjoy Shemp’s antics.  He was a fine addition to the team when Curly had to leave because of health issues.  When I was younger, I didn’t like Joe at all.  I found him to be irritating and not funny.  As an adult, I appreciate Joe bringing his own brand of humor to the team.  And I do find him funny now.  There’s no argument that Joe’s years on the team were the worst.  But, it would be wrong to blame it on him.  At the point he came on board, Columbia was the only studio making shorts.  The slashed the budgets on the final Stooges’ two-reelers and used a lot of stock footage from earlier Stooges outings.  This was no fault of Joe’s.

It’s too bad that studios don’t make two-reelers any more.  They might help get folks back into theaters.  Heck, maybe just release some of  the best Stooges shorts.  It’s time for a new generation to discover them.

“Dizzy Detectives” (1943) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Dizzy Detectives (1943)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard and Bud Jamison.

Tagline: Deliriously daffy with laughs!

The Plot…

Our boys are carpenters turned cops dealing with crooks & a gorilla. Of course they are.  Let the monkeyshines begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The opening scene is reused from the Stooges 1935 short, Pardon My Scotch.  It’s the scene where a table that Moe is standing on is cut in half by Curly.  Moe took the fall in real life and broke three ribs.

Dizzy Detectives (1943) earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Rusty Romeos” (1957) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Rusty Romeos (1957)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Jack White, Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The boys decide to clean up their house (with their usual brand of success) just hours before they are all to be married. Once their house is tidy, they will all head off to get hitched to their future brides. Surprisingly none of our guys have seen the others’ fiancés. What they don’t know, but will soon learn is they are all expecting to marry the same woman! What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Rusty Romeos is a remake of the Stooges’ 1952 short Corny Casanovas using several scenes from the original.  Joe replaced Shemp in the reboot, but in one scene Shemp’s portrait can be seen in the background.

Rusty Romeos (1957) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Sappy Bull Fighters” (1959) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Sappy Bull Fighters (1959)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Jack White

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser and Joe Palma.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The boys are entertainers down in Mexico.  When their suitcases get mixed up with the woman of an insanely jealous husband, the hijinks begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Sappy Bull Fighters is a reboot of the Stooges 1942 short What’s the Matador?,  Eagle-eyed viewers will spot Curly in some of the reused footage.

Although Sappy Bull Fighters wasn’t the last Stooges’ short filmed. it was the last to be released to theaters.

It may be Mary Tyler Moore playing a ballet dancer in the background at around the 1:30 mark.  It sure looks like her.

Sappy Bull Fighters (1959) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Triple Crossed” (1959) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Triple Crossed (1959)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Warren Wilson

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser, Diana Darrin and Shemp Howard.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Larry is having an affair with Moe’s wife and trying to move in on Joe’s girl.  When Moe catches on that his wife is cheating, Larry sets up Joe to be the fall guy.  It all comes to a head when Larry, Moe and Joe as well as the girls end up in the same room.

Let the hijinks begin.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Triple Crossed is a remake of the Stooges 1952 short, He Cooked His GooseTriple Crossed not only uses footage from that short, but sharp eyes and eyes will see/hear Shemp in the remake.  You can also notice the word “Joe” dubbed in when characters are saying “Shemp” in the reused footage.

Triple Crossed (1959) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Oil’s Well That Ends Well” (1958) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Oil’s Well That Ends Well (1958)

Director:  Jules White

Screenplay: Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Joe Besser.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The boys receive a letter from their dad saying that he needs surgery.  Dad suggests that our guys go to land that he owns and search for uranium.  So our boys do just that.  They find oil!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

While Oil’s Well That Ends Well reuses some footage from Oily to Bed Oily to Rise, the 1939 Stooges short, it is in service to a new story.  The footage used shows Curly atop the spout when the boys strike oil. Oil’s Well That Ends Well is also the only Stooges short that has no supporting actors.  It’s just Larry, Moe and Joe from start to finish.

Oil’s Well That Ends Well (1958) earns 3 of 5 stars.

“Frasier” – Season 1 (2023) starring Kelsey Grammer / Z-View

Frasier – Season 1 (2023)

Based on: Frasier by David Angell & Peter Casey & David Lee; Frasier Crane by Glen Charles & Les Charles; developed by Chris Harris, Joe Cristalli

Director:  James Burrows (Eps.1 – 2); Kelly Park (Ep. 3; 6); Kelsey Grammer (Eps. 4; 7 – 8; 10); Phill Lewis (Ep. 5);

Teleplay by: Joe Cristalli & Chris Harris (Ep. 1); Stephen Lloyd (Ep. 2); Lauren Houseman (Ep. 3); Bob Daily (Ep. 4); Farhan Arshad (Ep. 5); Joe Cristalli (Ep. 6); Sasha Stroman (Ep. 7); Miles Woods (Ep. 8); Robb Chavis (Ep. 9); Janene Lin & Jenna Martin & Naima Pearce (Ep. 10)

Starring:  Kelsey Grammer, Jack Cutmore-Scott, Toks Olagundoye, Jess Salgueiro, Anders Keith, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Jimmy Dunn, Bebe Neuwirth and Peri Gilpin.

Tagline: None.

The Plot: 

Frasier Crane, a Harvard educated, wealthy and famous television psychologist moves back to Boston after the death of his father.  Frasier hopes to rebuild a relationship with his grown son, Freddy.  Freddy is now a firefighter, having dropped out of Harvard.  Frasier buys the apartment building where Freddy lives, moves in and returns to Harvard as a Professor.

Let the good times roll

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

The season starts off a bit shaky but really hits stride with episode 6 which reaches the high bar set by the original series.

Many scenes take place in a bar called Mahoney’s.  This is a tribute to the late John Mahoney who played Frasier’s father in the original series.  It’s interesting to note that Kelsey Grammer is older than John Mahoney was when he played Frasier’s dad.

Frasier – Season 1 (2023)