Archive for January 2015

Under Siege (1992)   5 comments

under

Under Siege is the well-executed tale of a disillusioned former government operative Stranix (Tommy Lee Jones), an inside man Krill (Gary Busey), a crew of mercenaries, and their plan to steal the nuclear missiles from soon to be decommissioned Naval ship the USS Missouri and sell them to foreign terrorists.

tlj

Steven Seagal stars as Casey Ryback, the ship’s cook who has the skills to make more than bouillabaisse.

cook
C-4 anyone?

The film has all the usual suspects; the nutty revolutionary, the turncoat, and their enemy, the underestimated former Navy Seal who battles the baddies to save the world. It’s Die Hard on a boat. As John McClane would say, the good guys throw a few monkeys into the wrench. Seagal, a few loose seamen, a visiting WWII veteran, and Jordan Tate (Erika Eleniak) who boarded the ship to jump out of a cake band together to foil the evil Stranix and company and save the free world.

steve
Is that trig? I hate trig.

I like Under Siege. The veteran character actors including Patrick O’Neal, Colm Meaney, Andy Romano, Nick Mancuso, and Bernie Casey give believable performances.

garygunnn
Say what again!

Written by J.F. Lawton, who also wrote Pretty Women and Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (?), the dialogue and situations work and there’s enough military terminology to convince you he did at least a little research. Andrew Davis (Above the Law, The Fugitive) directed Under Siege as a solid action film with some fun moments. Through the witty dialogue and skillful acting of the company we learn enough about the characters to care about them or hope they die violently depending on what side they’re on. This is my favorite Steven Seagal film followed closely by the sequel Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. They’re both quality popcorn flicks.

salute

Strait-Jacket (1964)   6 comments

jacket poster

Lee Majors picks up a woman in a bar and brings her back to his house. The two lovers sleep soundly after their tryst until Majors’ wife Lucy (Joan Crawford) arrives and spoils everything. Things go poorly for the couple after that. Caught ranting at the scene of the double murder, Joan is shipped off to an asylum wearing…you guessed it.

strait
This is not an original!

Twenty years later, Joan, cured of being insane, heads home to her family’s farm where her grown daughter Carol (Diane Baker), Joan’s brother Bill (Leif Erickson), and his wife Emily (Rochelle Hudson) have promised to care for Joan. If it sounds ideal, think again. Even the tour Carol gives Lucy when she first arrives at the farm has a sinister vibe. Lucy is thrust into her former life twenty years after she left it. She dresses as if she’s a 28 year old floozy and even tries to suck face with her daughter’s beau Michael (John Anthony Hayes). It doesn’t go well. All of Lucy’s personal crises come to a head as people start losing theirs. Will heads continue to roll? Will Michael’s snotty parents approve of their future daughter-in-law’s nutjob mother? Will Pepsi work more product placement into the film? Will Joan continue to wear those annoying charm bracelets? Strait-Jacket’s worth watching to see the story’s unpredictable conclusion.

axy
You only serve Coke?!

Full of director/producer William Castle’s neat little touches, and writer Robert Bloch’s flair for psychopaths, Strait-Jacket has it all. Decapitations, insanity, and more sharp knives and slaughterhouse references than an Upton Sinclair novel. Joan even gets to slap someone. We also see one of George Kennedy’s early film roles as creepy farmhand Leo Krause.

george paint
I’ll use a different brush for the tires.

I recommend Strait-Jacket. It’s a well-made thriller with solid performances that keeps you guessing. If you’ve read any of my reviews you know I’m a big fan of B horror films and this one’s a gem.
Goofy trivia: Mitchell Cox, vice-president of PepsiCo played the part of Lucy’s doctor. Joan Crawford was on the board of directors of the soft drink company at the time.

headless
Teehee.

Berserk (1967)   1 comment

berserk poster

Monica Rivers (Joan Crawford) runs a circus with a problem. Her headlining acts keep dying violently. As the death toll rises, Scotland Yard begins to take notice and they send a man (Robert Hardy) to investigate. With performers dropping dead, police hovering, and the rest of the troupe on edge, the stress level increases quickly. The circus performers start suspecting each other and their leader. Rivers isn’t winning friends either with her ‘my way or the highway’ demeanor or with her habit of romancing all the eligible men. She starts with co-owner Michael Gough and moves on to trapeze artist Ty Hardin.

gough
Ty’s turn.

The arrival of Rivers’ daughter Angela (Judy Geeson) complicates matters further and since no one is truly innocent, the audience wonders who is killing the great circus performers of England.

mommy
All the other kids are going!

Berserk is a fun film for a few reasons. It’s Joan Crawford’s penultimate film and she gets to be queen of the over the top big top. She even gets to wear her own clothes. Berserk’s low budget did not allow for Crawford’s usual extravagant wardrobe so she brought her own. There are some interesting circus scenes too. The dog act is particularly fun and fortunately, the film keeps clown presence to a minimum.

dogs
We’re here to give the circus a little class.

Directed by Jim O’Connolly (The Hi-Jackers, The Valley of the Gwangi), Berserk holds your interest. Circus shenanigans and spectacular deaths make for an entertaining show and Joan Crawford’s histrionics are always a treat. The cast of capable supporting actors and real circus performers make the film fun to watch. Look for Diana Dors as a mouthy magician’s assistant.

hmmm
What could happen?

batman
What’s this guy doing here?

Joan even manages to inject some Pepsi product placement into the film. I like Joan Crawford in films like Strait-Jacket, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and Berserk. She knows how to chew her some furniture.

shock
Is that my paycheck?

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