Retro Movie Reviews

Post date: Dec 14, 2018 6:01:30 PM

Retro Movie Reviews by Jean-Paul Tertocha

This section will have posted reviews of past movies. Mainly from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.

I have found out reading other reviews, that if the review is good, the movies sucked, and of course, if the review was bad, the movie was usually quite good.

Two of the worst of these characters, in my opinion of course, are; Leonard Maltin and Phil Hardy. Here are a couple of embittered people whose reviews seem to come from an individual who was beaten as a child and grew up hating just about everything.

Now, the reader, that is you, must actually make their own judgment. Because you see movies are a form of art, as well as entertainment, and viewed with firm subjectivity. Just as I will write the reviews posted here.


Day of the Triffids <> 1963 <> 95m

The Day of the Triffids is a post-apocalyptic novel about a plague of blindness which befalls the entire world, which allows for the rise of an aggressive species of plants, published in 1951 by the English science fiction author John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, under the pen-name John Wyndham. Although Wyndham had already published other novels using other pen-name combinations drawn from his lengthy real name, this was the first novel that was published under the John Wyndham pen-name. It established him as an important writer, and remains his best known novel.

The movie based on the above mentioned novel was released in 1963. Although greatly reduced to fit into the 95 minutes of the movie, the material is equally as bizarre as the novel. Although the film is in color, it uses the macabre and dark scenes that the British have used a great deal in their B & W movies. It works just as well in color, providing the viewer with a foreboding look at an invasion of mobile, stinging, plants. A very entertaining film that will give you the creeps.


The Bermuda Depths <> 1978 <> 97m

Just to prove I don’t like every movie I see, I am reviewing this dog. A movie that sets rotten benchmarks. Dull, plodding, and lifeless describes it’s good points.

What it actually does is copy a lot of the aspects of “Blue Lagoon”, except this happens on a blue beach. And then it periodically involves a giant turtle, which has something to do with a babe from the lead characters past, who is also a turtle, at times. She is also a ghost. The whole thing is ridiculously convoluted.

The dialog is tedious and unimaginable. The acting is forced and unbelievable. Burl Ives, who plays one of the main characters, must have been hurting for income to be in this one. He looks as though he is saying throughout the movie, “let’s get this over with”.

So, if you are an insomniac, The Bermuda Depths, is prescribed as a non-medicinal way to put oneself to sleep.


Airport <> 1970 <> 2h 17m

This is not the Granddaddy of the air disaster movies, but it is the slickest. Airport is a superbly crafted movie.

This movie is an adaptation of the novel, “Airport”, by Arthur Hailey. The novel goes into way more depth. And if it had not been whittled down a bit, a mini-series format would have been needed to convey all of the text into screen-play. George Seaton did a fantastically outstanding job of condensing the novel into a screen-play without damaging the drift of the theme of the novel. He also did a marvelous job of directing as well.

The casting is absolutely perfect in this movie. The actors and actress' portray the characters believably. There are a bunch of cameo appearances as well. So if you watch this movie, keep a look out for someone that may be recognizable to you. I will give you a tip. Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, the Tasmanian Devil, is in a scene. Keep an eye out for him.

The fact is, Airport is actually a monster soap opera, one that, fortunately, comes to a conclusion. The movie is really about human interaction. The air disaster is a vehicle to portray human interaction and emotion. The human factor is portrayed with brutal reality.

The sets, locations, all beautifully managed with continuity second to none. The colors are a bit over saturated, but it fits the times of the movie when people began to dress a bit more flamboyantly than in previous times. On a wide-screen, the picture is constantly stunning.

Want a thrill while studying human interaction, watch Airport on a wide-screen TV.


Meteor <> 1979 <> 1h 47m

Although made in 1979, this movie will fit nicely into a home theater with surround sound. Way ahead of its time in that respect, This film also boasts spectacular cinematography, witty dialog full of cleaver one-liners, romance, escapades, action, and of course, pathos. And to add even more power to this movie, it boasts an all-star cast as well.

I found the plot quite believable. Especially the part where the stupid politicians and administrators are being told the Earth is in peril. The overseers of course being in denial and wanting to hide the very item that would solve the dilemma. The lead character, played by Sean Connery, is gruff, and bitter in the beginning of the show. And he does have every right to be.

Well, Karl Malden, the support character, has a clever idea to work around the red tape. And soon the Earth’s rescue is started.

No simple thing redirecting a rouge meteor, and these people got to work at it. Then an enormous climax ensues and all settles down, for a while. And just when you think all is well….


The Bat <> 1959 <> 80m

Although bats, the animals, are involved in this movie, they are not the prime character. The Bat is actually a serial killer that seems to resurface when money is involved. Imagine that? :)

Agnes Moorhead plays a writer that rents an eerie mansion to put together her latest mystery novel. The mansion is owned by a financier whose bank is missing some funds as well as the banker himself. The banker’s doctor, played by Vincent Price, gets involved in a very convoluted scheme. Things get so confusing, that a first time watcher of this movie probably will get lost and not have a clue as to what is going on. This is good though, as this is a mystery movie.

All around virtuous movie as far as the technicalities go as well. Shot in a baroque style, dark and foreboding. Very good character development through the aid of well composed dialog. This movie flows right to the logical end.


Born Free <> 1965 <> 95m

If there ever is a movie that is the epitome of motion pictures, that is one that sets values, this is it. Of course the movie industry, fortunately noticed this as well, awarding this motion picture two Academy Awards, including one for best score.

Yes, the music for this flick is outstanding. Very well suited to the action and emotion of the movie.

The cinematography is second to none. Stunningly filmed in Central Africa, with majestic scenes to backdrop the superb acting, editing, and directing, achieved in this movie. The incidental shots in the film are a pleasure to watch. My favorite, when the wild pig counter-attacks Elsa the lion on one of her first trials at hunting. This pig, repeatedly dashes into the front and side of a bewildered lioness. How the people and animals accomplished this scene is beyond me!

Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, who portray the married couple dealing with Elsa, fit the part flawlessly. They are so adept at acting their parts, after a short time into watching the movie one can FEEL the emotion they are portraying. And if a watcher does not get a lump in his or her throat, or shed a tear or two watching this movie, that person’s heart is made of stone!

With all the majesty of this motion picture the premise is quite simple actually. Three lion cub’s parents are killed, and the humans involved attempt to correct the matter, with a lot of adventure and pathos.


Five Million Years to Earth <> 1968 <> 107m

The version I viewed for this review is actually a 107 minute version abridged compilation of a BBC miniseries written by Rudolph Cartier. Cartier himself supervised the editing of this form of the movie.

Andrew Keir plays the stately lead character, Professor Bernard Quatermass. And he is a leading example of one fine point of this movie. The casting is well done as each character has an actor or actress that physically fit the part. Not only that, the players did a fine job of delivering the dialog with the proper and right amount of whatever physical motion goes along with the dialog of the moment. Julian Glover perfectly adds to the movie as a genuine, snobbish, military prick. I found I actually began to loathe the character myself.

The dialog I find quite entertaining. Of course I am biased as I prefer the British use of the English language. This movie is well written and to compliment that, the players delivery is quite believable, and draws the watcher into the movie.

OK, what is it about? Well, you need to watch it to find out really. But for a hint, I would state it could be an extraterrestrial invasion gone wrong that has been discovered. Or did the invasion go right?


Fiend without a Face <> 1957 <> 74m

Any reader of reviews should realize instantly that reviews are subjective. I just wanted to remind you of this. Because this review is about one of my favorite movies of the monster genre. I will tell you why later.

Fiend without a Face is simply a cleaver, format movie with a slight twist.

The USA military has a base in Canada that uses atomic power for some kind of DEW line defense test. Ah oh, does that seem familiar? The ole atomic bomb shtick? Well, not exactly in this movie, as the atomic energy does not cause the monsters nor do they destroy them. Atomic power is an intricate part of the story however. Puzzled? Good! Maybe this will cause you to watch the movie.

Well anyway, the sub-plot is routine as the locals claim the military base is screwing up their cow’s milk production. Then grisly murders occur that the locals blame on an AWOL nut case from the base. Well of course the base commander cannot deal with this and someone is assigned to look into the problem.

The locals are completely off base, because monsters are causing the problem. And the monsters in this movie are really unusual.

Now I must give away part of the surprise. These monsters CAN BE SHOT! And the results are fatal and quite messy for the monsters involved. In just about every movie about monsters, guns are not effective. Not in this flick. However, shooting them does not solve the problem, you must watch the movie in order to find out how the US military gets rid of this monster peril.


TV Pilot Movie for Hunter <> 1984 <> 95m

This series had actually sat around for a while before I viewed the pilot film for the TV series. I had preconceived notions of the movie that were not good. I thought it would be a dumb movie. I am wrong! This is a delightfully entertaining movie. Superb character development, cliché-ridden a bit, but entertaining dialog. And enough action to raise your heart-beat rate periodically throughout the movie.

The movie is the pilot for the Hunter series in which two rouge detectives team up to fight crime using less than conventional methods. Now this seems to be a clichéd statement, but this movie actually works under those circumstances. As weird as the circumstances are, the characters and situations they find themselves in are believable, at least in an entertaining way. Their boss hates their methods, but the team of crime fighters gets the job done despite roadblocks thrown up by a politically oriented and stupid boss. Non-stop visual entertainment you will find watching this movie.