SteveMiller's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Scorched (2003)
3 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Starring: John Cleese, Paulo Costanzo, Rachael Leigh Cook, Woody Harrelson, Joshua Leonard, Alicia Silverstone, and Marcus Thomas.

Three tellers at a small branch office bank (Paulo Costanzo, Woody Harrelson,and Alicia Silverstone), each with their own reasons for feeling disgruntled and put-upon decide independently to rob their employeer. Each has their own plan, each intends to target a different part of the bank, and each chooses to commit their larceny on the same weekend. And that's when things start getting really crazy.

This ensamble comedy features a strong cast (more comment on this below) and likable characters that move back and forth through four overlapping storylines--the three heists and a fourth involving a pair of geeky roommates who are trying to land one of them a job he can keep for more than a couple of hours. It also features a surprsingly tense roulette scene during one of the larcenous tellers' trip to Vegas. Some of the lines are a bit clunky and there are one or two scenes that could do with some punching up, but overall this film is pretty darn good and extremely entertaining.

I also think it's a film gamers might enjoy. Several of the film's characters are in a D&D gaming group, and I think we all might recognize some of the character types at the table. The Cook character is a particularly cute parody of the 'gamer chick.'

Speaking of Cook, it's probably a good thing that she and Silverstone don't actually share any scenes. I've never been a big fan of Silverstone, but seeing her in a film with an actress that is so full of charm and energy makes me feel even more underwhelmed by her talent and screen presence. While both actresses did a fine job, I think it is probably a casting mistake to put them in the movie; it makes Silverstone look bad.

War-Gods of the Deep
5 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

War-Gods of the Deep (aka "City Under the Sea")
Starring: Tab Hunter, Vincent Price, David Tomlinson, and Susan Hart
Director: Jacques Tourneur

When beautiful Jill (Hart) is abducted by a strange creature, the odd trio of a dashing young geologist (Hunter) and an eccentric artist (Tomlinson) and his pet chicken set out to rescue her. In the process, they find themselves in the remnants of a long-lost civilization where The Captain (Price) rules over a band of cut-throats and an army of monstrous gill-men.

This is another one of American-International's loose adaptations of an Edgar Allen Poe work, and it's one of the better ones. The steam-punk vibes of the ancient pumps and the diving suits left by whoever originally built the city are very cool looking. Price and his immortal pirates make for interesting foils to the heroic, square-jawed good-guy of Hunter, and Tomlinson does a fine turn as the comic relief. And Hart... well, Hart looks great in a low-cut dress, and one certainly understands why everyone wants her.

This film is a fun "lost civilization" yarn that presents all the standards of that genre. It might have rated a 7 if not for an protracted, muddled and very, very boring underwater "chase scene", where our heroes stumble around in dive suits as the bad guys and gill-men give chase. It's a scene that goes on and on and on, and I doubt it was even all that thrilling in 1965. If the film was trimmed by three or four minutes (all taken from there), it would be vastly improved.

The Climax
The Climax (1944)
2 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

A young opera singer (Foster) becomes the target of the crazy house doctor (Karloff) at the Vienna Royal Opera. Will her dashing boyfriend (Bey) manage to save her before her voice is silenced forever?

[i]Susanna Foster and Boris Karloff star
as victim and victimizer in "The Climax"[/i]

"The Climax" is Boris Karloff's first color picture and it's pretty to look at. It also has some nice performances from Karloff, Turhan Bey--who swings from dramatic of comedic with graceful ease--and Thomas Gomez as the beleaguered manager of the opera company. Unfortunately, their performances are propping up a fairly boring melodrama the titular climax of which isn't much to sing about.

The film is available on DVD for the first time as part of Universal's "Boris Karloff Collection" ([url=""]click here to read more about it at[/url]) and as such it rates as inoffensive filler. It's not exactly a bad movie, just a bland one, and one you can safely leave for last if you pick up the set.

The Climax
Starring: Boris Karloff, Susanna Foster, Turhan Bey, Ludwig Stossel, Thomas Gomez and Gale Sondergard
Director: George Waggner

Doctor Mordrid
3 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Anton Mordrid (Combs) is an unaging sorcerer who is lives secretly in the modern world, guarding Earth from demonic invasions. When the evil alchemist Kabal (Thompson) escapes from what was supposed to be his eternal prison, Mordid must turn to mortal woman Samantha Hunt (Nipar) for help if humanity is to survive.

"Doctor Mordrid" is a neat little modern fantasy film that, like a number of other Full Moon releases is surprisngly good for a direct-to-video release that dates from the early 1990s. It's got an interesting hero who acquires a cool woman sidekick in the course of the film, a villain who gives other fantasy film bad guys a run for their money, and hints at a much large, extremely interesting cosmololgy than we only get a small glimpse at in this film.

Actually, getting a small glimpse of something bigger is the way I feel about the whole movie. It feels like it should have been at least 30-45 minutes longer, and with with the scant development that's given to a number of concepts and charactes, it could easily have supported the additional running time. If all the skeletons of nifty ideas and characters that appear in movie had been more fully fleshed out, this could have been a great movie. As it is, It's a pretty good one, with decent acting and okay effects. It's worth checking out, particularly if you like movies and books like "Harry Potter" or "The Dresden Files".

Doctor Mordrid
Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Yvette Nipar, Brian Thompson, and Jay Acavone
Directors: Albert Band and Charles Band

The Flesh and The Fiends
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The Flesh and the Fiends (aka "Mania", "The Psycho Killers", and "The Fiendish Ghouls")
Starring: Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, and George Rose
Director: John Gilling

In 1827, sociopathic drunkards Burke (Rose) and Hare (Pleasence) strike it rich by selling recently deceased bodies to the esteemed doctor and medical instructor Dr. Robert Knox (Cushing). Knox, frustrated by his inability to acquire bodies in good shape for dissection turns a blind eye to where his new study subjects may be coming from, while Burke and Hare are murder their way through Edinburgh's poor and homeless. They get sloppy and greedy... and when they kill one of Dr. Knox's students, things go from bad to worse.

Based on real-life events surrounding a doctor who actually did do quite a bit to advance the science of anatomy, and two murderous men who helped him do it, "The Flesh and the Fiends" isn't quite a horror film--despite the many lurid titles it's been presented under over the years--although the real-life events it describes are pretty horrible, but instead a well-acted drama about how a fundementally good man with a righteous goal can become tainted by evil if he lets obsession and ambition blind him to moral right and wrong.

The film is particularly interesting because Peter Cushing is plays Dr. Knox, a character who has a lot in common with Baron Frankenstein; both men believe they alone know how to advance medical science and everyone else is too limited in vision and drive to acheive. (There's even a scene in "The Flesh and the Fiends" that is very similar to one in "The Revenge of Frankenstein"--in both cases, the doctors are ordered to appear before Medical Councils bent on disgracing them. In both cases, the summoned doctor refuses to bow before them.)

There are two key differences between Knox and Frankenstein as portrayed by Cushing. Frankenstein always has a superior air about him and nothing (NOTHING!) ever truly harms his ego or sense of self. Knox, on the other hand, while arrogant and sure that he Knows What Is Right, always has a slightly sad and lonely air about him--he stands alone and he isn't quite sure why. The scene where Knox manages to see himself as the world has come to see him is one of the most striking moments in the film, and it's one that Cushing pulls off spectacularly... and really underscores that he is playing two very different characters despite the many similarities.

Aside from Cushing, Pleasence and Rose are great as the infamous serial killers, Burke and Hare. The rest of the cast does a good job as well, and the musical score is above average for a movie of this kind, from this period in British cinema.

So, with all that raving, why only a Six-Tomato Rating?

First of all, there's the look of the film. With the exception of scenes where an angry mob is chasing Burke and Hare after their murderous deeds come to light, Gilling doesn't take advantage of the fact that he is shooting in black-and-white. Most scenes are varying shades of gray where some stark lighting contrasts would have upped the drama significantly and made the movie far more interesting visually.

Second, there isn't enough exploration of Knox and his family. His daughter and her fiance are introduced and both characters play small parts in the film. They are very decent people, and through them we get the sence that Knox is a decent person too, but we don't get enough of this. If we saw more of Knox's "private life" away from the lecture hall and the basement where he purchases corpses from Burke and Hare, his fall and redemption would be that much more impactful. One less barroom scene and one more scene of Knox interacting with the daughter would have done wonders for the film, I think.

Nonetheless, "The Flesh and the Fiends" is a film that's worth seeing for fans of the Golden Age of the British thriller. Fans of Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasence will also be able to enjoy these two actors giving fine performances.