Seven more movies

There are so many good movies out there — a hundred years of old movies, plus thousands of odd or artsy, foreign or forgotten or DIY movies made just for the joy of making 'em — that if you only watch whatever's on Netflix or playing at the twentyplex, you're missing out.   

All these films are streaming for free and without commercials, if you have a good adblocker. Sites like Putlocker are torrent indexes, and thus legally questionable, so experts recommend using a VPN.

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) — MAYBE— From Roger Corman. A hick sheriff doesn’t believe the game warden, who tells him something unusual might be roaming the swampy bayou. Of at least equal interest, there’s a married blonde who hates her husband and ought to hang an ‘affair wanted’ sign.

The script's unspoken message is "Ignore the game warden," but the monsters are classic Corman — cheap, and effective when very briefly glimpsed. Being leeches, they don’t kill ya quick, they drag you into a cave and feed off you slowly.

Bank Alarm (1937) — NO — A smartass guy from the Justice Department is bemused by the incompetence of local and city cops. A goofy private investigator is amusing, at first, but he soon grows tiresome. Quaint, occasionally interesting. “Our rates are cheap — $2 a night, clean sheets every day.”

The Big Bluff (1955) — NO — A widow has a fatal disease and a lot of money, a combination which makes her very attractive to a sleazy gentleman. This is watchable but nothing special, a dumb movie that thinks it’s clever, with a big bouquet of convenient coincidences to tie up everything at the end.

Teenage Zombies (1960) — YES — Were teenagers ever as innocent as these malt-shop kids, three boys and three girls who all hang out together, get into a Scooby-Doo adventure together, but never hold hands or even think about smoochy-woochy?

They visit a local island (“Funny we never knew about it”), where they see a woman herding people, and then there’s plenty of poorly-scripted and badly-performed shenanigans. I can’t imagine that anyone, even in 1960, experienced actual tension while watching this movie, but the cliché is “so bad it’s good,” and I enjoyed it. Be advised, there are no teenage zombies in Teenage Zombies.

True Grit (1969) — BIG YES — John Wayne lightly parodies his iconic tough-guy image in this big boisterous western, where he teams up with Glen Campbell and Kim Darby to track down the man who killed her father. Maybe you saw the 2010 Coen brothers' remake? That's also good, but don’t miss the original.

Darby's Mattie Ross is one of the great tough dames of cinema. Campbell was not an actor, but they were trying to make him a movie star like Elvis Presley, and it's only occasionally painful. John Wayne is John Wayne only more so. Expect lots of horses galloping and guns being shot, and none of it is boring for even a moment. Campbell sings the theme song, which earwormed its way into my head and a week later it's still there. 

Memorable moments:
• “I always go backward when I'm backing away.”
• "I'm serving some papers."
• Mattie’s negotiations with the horse trader.
• The ferry crossing.
• “Damned Texan, when you need him he’s dead.”
• The song. Oh lord, the song. There it is again, right now ...

True Grit was this month's streaming movie that I watched with my brother, and for next month he's suggested Easy Rider, which sure surprised me. “Have you ever seen it?” I said. “Nobody in that movie goes to church.” Well, we’ll see in a month.

The Unseen (1945) — NO — This is a movie with way too much going on. Raymond Chandler co-wrote the screenplay, but it’s a mess and I couldn’t make sense of it.

There’s an abandoned mansion, a new governess at the house next door, an 8-year-old boy who looks angelic but acts satanic, a hidden and mysterious watch, blackmail, memories of a murder and then a new murder nobody seems to care about, happy music during creepy moments, and some sound medical advice: “Here are your sleeping pills. If these don’t work I’ll buy you a hammer.”

The Wasp Woman (1959) — MAYBE — It’s from Roger Corman, and that's a plus for me, but your mileage may vary. An old beekeeper is messing around with wasps, on the verge of using wasp-extract or whatever to defeat the aging process. He’s hired by a woman who runs a cosmetics company, and since we know the title of the movie, we know what’s coming next. Corman does not disappoint.


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  1. Roger Corman was an arteest.

  2. He's still an 'is', not a 'was', and IMDB says he has a movie in pre-production.


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