ORBzine - June 2006 Movie Reviews

Cosmic Shock AKA Doomsday Rock

Cosmic Shock William Devane takes over a USAF nuke missile silo, and blackmails the Pentagon into letting him use the Hubble telescope. He claims that Australian Aboriginal cave-paintings depict future events, including a meteor striking the Earth.

The plan is to use the silo's ICBMs to destroy the meteor. Ignoring the fact that the Earth would be splattered with radioactive fragments!

Roger R. Cross ( First Wave ) is one of the USAF personnel. Kent McCord ( Farscape ) is a Pentagon general.

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  • Primal Force

    Primal Force A small plane crashes on a remote island. Local guide Ron Perlman ( Blade II, Hellboy ) is hired to lead the rescue mission.

    It turns out the island was site of a genetic emperiments lab, and now plays host to super-intelligent killer baboons. Like hairy Velociraptors!

    This is a monster flick, in the manner of Aliens . But despite its low budget (it was made for US TV) it is actually not a bad piece of work. The action scenes are well shot, the creatures are well used, and there is no dodgy CGI to get on the viewer's nerves!

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  • What Planet Are You From?

    What Planet Are You From? Alien Overlord Ben Kingsley ( Thunderbirds ) sends underling Gary Shandling ( X-Files ) to Earth. His mission, to marry and impregnate Annette Benning . But US Government investigator John Goodman ( 10 Cloverfield Lane ) closes in on him. Linda Fiorentino and Greg Kinnear ( The Gift ) round out the cast.

    Director Mike Nichols and female lead Benning are best known for hard-edged dramatic works. This contrasts badly with the lightweight (and light on jokes) provided by TV comedian Shandling.

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  • 10.5 Apocalypse

    10.5 Apocalypse An earthquake sucks Las Vegas underground - and it threatens the rest of the USA. Troubleshooter Kim Delaney tells boss-man Beau Bridges ( SG-1 Season 9 ) that only her dad (Frank Langella - Zorro (1976), Dracula (1979) ) can save the day.

    Unfortunately, daddy was in Vegas when it went down. Now he leads a band of survivors, including pregnant nurse Carly Pope , to safety - like in Poseidon Adventure . Up top, rescue guy Dean Cain ( Lois and Clark ) and paramedic Carlos Bernard (24) try to save people.

    The earthquake faultline is growing, towards the biggest nuclear power stations in the USA. The heroes use a plan straight out of 1960s B-Movie A Hole In the World !

  • 10.5 AKA Earthquake 10.5
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  • Doomwatch (1972)

    Doomwatch (1972) This is an eco-thriller from the early 1970s. Scientist Ian Bannen ( Braveheart ) is sent to a remote Cornish island to get proof of pollution. He is unnerved by the stranged-acting locals (this was only a couple of years before The Wicker man ). Luckily, he is supported by helpful schoolteacher Judy Geeson.

    Our hero investigates a strange illness among the inhabitants of the remote village. Toxic dumping is to blame ...

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  • Brigadoon

    Brigadoon Gene Kelly and Van Johnson, a couple of US from NYC, get lost in the Scottish highlands circa 1950.

    They find themselves in the mystical village of Brigadoon, which appears only one day every hundred years. A Presbyterian minister cast the spell in about 1750, so the villagers have been immortal for about two days!

    The villagers are all pristine, beautiful people in beautiful clothes (matching kilts for all the men), evoking every racist cliche abut the Scots. Until Braveheart invented some new ones, of course.

    Kelly falls for local Campbell maiden Cyd Charisse . But he is engaged to marry a fast-talking broad back in Noo Yawk ...

    This is just a big-budget stage musical, clumsily adapted for the big screen. Yes, the sets are fine, production values are high - but the direction is lacklustre, it merely watches the actors sing and dance.

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  • Tank Girl

    Tank Girl Rebecca ( Lori Petty ) lives with some counterculture types in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. She is captured by the eeeevil Water and Power Corporation, led by Malcolm McDowell ( Clockwork Orange ). In the slave-mines she befriends a lonely tech girl ( Naomi Watts ). Together they escape, borrowing a tank and a jet-fighter, thus becoming ... Tank Girl and Jet Girl!

    Ice-T and Jeff Kober ( Buffy Season 6 ) play the Rippers, a gang of genetic mutants who raid the Corporation's outposts.

    Rachel Talalay delivered quite a messy film. It is very violent and comic-booky (with regular flashes of Jamie Hewlett's artwork), which makes it unattractive to female viewers ... but there is too much girl power for it to be a mainstream action movie!

  • Barb Wire
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  • Prince Valiant

    Prince Valiant Sometime in the Dark Ages, a Christian King of the Vikings has been exiled. He sends his son, Prince Valiant (Robert Wagner - Towering Inferno (1974) ) to Camelot.

    En route, Valiant discovers the villainous Black Knight who is in league with the Pagan Vikings. Valiant also meets the friendly Sir Gawain (Sterling Hayden, with the worst accent imaginable), and at Camelot he meets Sir Breck (James Mason - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) ).

    Valiant hunts for the Black Knight, but instead finds his love interest - Princess Janet Leigh . However, Breck has his eye on her. Gawain falls for her as well.

    We move from the 17th-Century gardens of Ms Leigh to the medieval stone-built castle of the Vikings, all apparently co-existing in the time of King Arthur. But then, one should never expect historical accuracy with this kind of film.

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  • Legend of Hell House, The (1973)

    Legend of Hell House A Professor (Clive Revill - Empire Strikes Back ) is hired to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of life after death. To do this, he has five days to conduct experiments in Hill House. It is supposed to be the most haunted house in England, after the mysterious disappearance of the original owner Mr Belasco (Michael Gough - Satan's Slave (1976) ).

    Xmas week, 1973. The quartet of investigators stay at a haunted house. The Professor takes his wife ( Gayle Hunnicutt ) and the only survivor of the previous expedition (Roddy McDowell - Planet Of The Apes ). The final member of the group is a psychic medium ( Pamela Franklin ), who more or less steals the entire film by getting possessed repeatedly.

    This was written by Richard Matheson , adapted from his novel Hell House.

  • The Haunting (1950s)
  • The Haunting (1990s)
  • The House on Haunted Hill (1950s)
  • The House on Haunted Hill (1999)
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  • Deadlier Than The Male

    Deadlier Than The Male This is a 1960s spy romp, featuring a revamp of the 1930 pulp detective hero Bulldog Drumond. Here he has to defeat evil mastermind Nigel Green ( Gawain And The Green Knight (1973) ), who is equipped with a gang of femme fatales (led by Elke Sommer ) and a lifesize chess-board (with mechanised pieces).

    It is full of 1960s spy cliches, but it is nice to see a British film compete with the likes of In Like Flint !

    A small role is given to Justine Lord , famous as The Girl Who Was Death in The Prisoner .

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  • Some Girls Do

    Some Girls Do This is a sequel to Deadlier Than The Male . Bulldog Drummond's back in business. His favourite tipple is Bullshot, which led to the title of the 1980s spoof.

    The femme fatales include Joanna Lumley and Yutte Stensgaard .

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  • Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

    Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex Errol Flynn ( The Sea Hawk ) and Bette Davis play the title roles in this mockery of history. Essex is shown as being impetuous, which he indeed was, but here he has been made into a character more worthy of the great Flynn. Queen Elizabeth I, a great national leader, is shown as a lovesick old woman.

    Poor Essex comes so close to defeating Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, but is undermined by the jealous Queen who is manipulated by rival courtiers. No mention of Essex's own political games, which led to the execution of the Queen's own physician! And strangely, Ulster looks like the set of Brigadoon !

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  • Prodigal, The

    The Prodigal This is the bottom of the barrel in terms of Biblical epics. After all the big stories had been done - Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah, The Robe - they made an action-adventure piece out of the brief parable of the Prodigal son!

    A Jewish farmboy goes to the big city, Damascus, and is corrupted with lust for Lana Turner . Well, who wouldn't be? But unfortunately she is a pagan priestess.

    The merciless monotheist slaughters a stuffed vulture. Then he gets a dozen or so (apparently starving) beggars to riot, and murder everyone in the city who has a job. Wow, what a happy ending!

    Lana Turner was forced into this by the Studio she had signed a contract with. To protest, she snipped bits off her costume to make it as skimpy as possible!

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