Critter round-up

Leonardo DiCaprio, looking even prettier than his costar in his film debut.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the five (thus far) movies in the Critters franchise. Widely seen as a Gremlins rip-off, these omnivorous furballs apparently were independently conceived, and the first two movies aren’t all bad. The others are garbage, though Critters 4 does deserve some credit for being, I think, the first horror franchise to expand from Earth into space (later, Hellraiser, Friday the 13th, and the Leprechaun franchises would all make a similar migration).

Critters (1986)
Critters 2: The Main Course (1988)
Critters 3 (1991)
Critters 4 (1992)
Critters Attack! (2019)

Spies in the ’60s

You have a lot to answer for, Mr. Bond.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching a bunch of spy movies from the 1960s (along with a couple of outliers at either end of that decade). Basically this means Bondmania: the Connery Bond movies and all their parodies, imitators, and correctives. Somehow Bond just hit on the perfect formula right from the start though, and no one could ever duplicate the success they had with it.

North by Northwest (1959)
Dr. No (1960)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Charade (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1965)
The Ipcress File (1965)
Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)
Thunderball (1965)
Arabesque (1966)
The Quiller Memorandum (1966)
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1966)
Torn Curtain (1966)
Our Man Flint (1966)
Funeral in Berlin (1966)
Murderer’s Row (1966)
Modesty Blaise (1966)
Casino Royale (1967)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
In Like Flint (1967)
Billion Dollar Brain (1967)
The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)
Deadlier Than the Male (1967)
Some Girls Do (1969)
Topaz (1969)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
The Kremlin Letter (1970)
Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Little green men

All he wants is his gold.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve just finished off the unheralded Leprechaun franchise. I’m a little impressed that they made 8 of these, but then there have been 8 Children of the Corn movies too. I guess the brand is worth, or has been worth, something. Warwick Davis was OK in the role in a couple of the early movies. The 2014 reboot, turning the title figure into a growling beast, was a woeful mistake. Linden Porco in 2018 actually showed some promise, but I don’t know if we’re at the end now anyway.

Leprechaun (1993)
Leprechaun 2 (1994)
Leprechaun 3 (1995)
Leprechaun 4: In Space (1996)
Leprechaun in the Hood (2000)
Leprechaun 6: Back 2 Tha Hood (2003)
Leprechaun: Origins (2014)
Leprechaun Returns (2018)

Handsome, clever, and rich

Old-school gentrification.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma. I think the rom-com Clueless still plays pretty fresh, and the two more traditional versions from 1996 (one with Gwyneth Paltrow, the other with Kate Beckinsale) are OK. For all the praise she received though, I think Paltrow makes the worst Emma. Then I finish up with the 2020 edition, starring Anya Taylor-Joy. I really enjoyed it, except for what they did to Mr. Knightley. Poor Mr. Knightley, as Emma’s father would say.

The transman

Her gun is bigger than his.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve finished watching the original trilogy of Jason Statham Transporter movies — The Transporter (2002), Transporter 2 (2005), and Transporter 3 (2008) — as well as the reboot The Transporter Refueled (2015). About what you’d expect from a franchise that apparently began life as a series of BMW car commercials. But maybe not quite as good as that. Generic stuff all around, though I didn’t think the reboot was as bad as reviewers made it out to be. Or, to put it another way, I didn’t find it to be as big a let-down.

Now you see him . . .

A truly classy vanishing act.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching some movies about invisible people. Meaning movies that have their nominal origin in The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (though Wells himself wasn’t the first to come up with the idea, which is as old as antiquity).

As I say several times over the course of my notes, the Invisible Man (or Woman) is a plastic figure, capable of being hero or villain, victim or superhero. The movies may be thrillers, action vehicles, or slapstick comedies. There is no one generic Invisible Man, or Invisible Man movie. Here are just some of them:

The Invisible Man (1933)
The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
The Invisible Woman (1940)
Invisible Agent (1942)
The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944)
The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
The Unseen (2016)
The Invisible Man (2020)

The return, revenge, and curse of Michael Myers

Him again.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve finished up working though the Halloween franchise (I had an earlier post after doing the original and the Rob Zombie flicks here). The only ones I skipped were Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1994) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002). Maybe I’ll get around to writing notes on them someday.

It’s a weird series. There’s no through narrative, even of the most strained, supernatural kind like in the Friday the 13th franchise. In fact, there’s not much to the whole Halloween mythos aside from the (literally) tortured relationship between Michael and Laurie. And the movies, with the exception of the first, are not every good. Aside from exploiting the brand it’s hard to see how or why they’ve hung around for nearly half a century.

Halloween (1978)
Halloween II (1981)
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998)
Halloween (2007)
Halloween II (2009)
Halloween (2018)
Halloween Kills (2021)

Departures, no arrivals

Hang in there, Karen. You still have House of 1000 Corpses to get through.

Over at Alex on Film I’ve been watching the Airport tetralogy: Airport (1970), Airport 1975 (1974), Airport ’77 (1977), and The Concorde . . . Airport ’79 (1979). I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. Yes they’re trash, but it’s trash that has aged well, and each film has its own silly identity. I actually went to see The Concorde on its initial release, so many years ago now. Of course, after this it was on to Airplane! and other send-ups, since there was no place left to go. And Airplane! is still very funny today too. But don’t sleep on the originals.