TRUST ME, alphabetically: T takes time to trash thirteen tainted turkeys that task, thud, then trample the taste test. Thusly, these…
TAKERS —–decent cast in a 2010 heist movie that could serve as a textbook example of how to make something derivative. Contrivance reigns from Scene 1. Four guys who we won’t bother to list helped director John Luessenhop mash up the ridiculous script for this foolishness. His use of millisecond editing cuts and jangling camera might as well scream “LOOK AT ME DIRECTING”! There are any number of well-made crime flicks you could while away time with other than wasting 107 minutes on this, which makes poor use of Matt Dillon, Paul Walker, Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez, Hayden Christensen and Zoe Saldana. Oh, that punkass Chris Brown is in it, too—another reason to skip out.
Spilled was $32,000,000, taken (no kidding) was $69,100,000. “We’re takers, gents. That’s what we do for a living. We take.” Dhuamn!, Hom’z, I wonder how they came up with the scene where the ‘crew’ walks away from the exploding helicopter, without bothering to look back over their so-cool shoulders in—wait for it—slo-motion. Then they get in their hot cars and drive off. ‘That’s, like so dope, know what I’m sayin’? Yeah, actually, I think I do. Best line in the film sums it up: “Shit is bleak out there.” Cheer up, taker dude, cuz director Luessenhop would return with Texas Chainsaw 3D. Damn, that shit be harsh.
TANK GIRL marked the last time I would ever pay any attention to the guy who reviewed for the local rag, who raved over this cowpie like it was crêpe suzette. Directed in 1995 by Rachel Talaly, it’s a “science-fiction action comedy” taken from a comic book with a feminist cyber-punk anti-hero. Eat that with a side of ugly, hold the appeal. Loud, manic and in-your-face with bad attitude for 104 minutes, it burned up $25,000,000 to design and shoot, but only conned $6,000,000 back.
With Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Don Harvey, Jeff Kober and Malcolm McDowell. Iggy Pop has a cameo as ‘Rat Face’. It has a cult following. Petty: “There’s no formula as to why Tank Girl was so fabulous and why people love it so much … It was unique, it was new, it was fresh, it was way ahead of its time, and I’m happy that I got to do it and that I’ll always have her.” Lori, with respect, you are welcome to her.
TARZAN, THE APE MAN —–“directed by John Derek” could be the whole review, but since this infamous run through the bungle includes wife Bo (who produced as well as “acted”) we’ll be courtly and salute her contribution to the lore of the heroic vine-swinger, who swings more sinuously than usual with Jane in this 1981 version of the Burroughs classic, told from Jane’s viewpoint. The daring Derek’s expenditure of $6,500,000 did manage to yell up $36,565,000, thanks to (1) her body and (2) her body. A well-timed layout in “Playboy” could have been a factor. What were the articles in that month’s issue?…
Richard Harris needed the money (bar and coke tabs being what they were), and John Philip Law needed to erase memory of how lame he was as Sinbad. Inexperienced 25-year-old hunkboy Miles O’Keeffe made his debut as the Lord of the Apes. He would follow this triumph with Ator, The Fighting Eagle.
Filming in Sri Lanka, Bo had a lot of trouble with the crew, firing 15 of the 23: Art can be a harsh mistress. Hubby Derek also did the cinematography, but was not dismissed. Burroughs estate sued.
THE TERMINAL MAN—–not having read the 1972 Michael Crichton book, I can’t compare, but this 1974 film adaptation, written & directed by Mike Hodges, is a terminal bore. Attempting to control his frequent violence-accompanied seizures, scientists implant electrodes in the brain of ‘Harry Benson’ (George Segal), but of course this rewire goes haywire. Someone should have implanted Segal—taking a break from a series of comedies—with something resembling zest.
Visually, the production is an eye-strain drag, and runs 107 minutes as it features Joan Hackett, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat, Michael C. Gwynne, Jill Clayburgh, James B. Sikking and Matt Clark. The advertising tag-line was “Harry Benson is a brilliant computer scientist. For three minutes a day, he is violently homicidal.” Sounds like most of the computer nerds I know.
THE TERROR —–familiar heavy Leo Gordon co-wrote this daft 1963 quickie for producer Roger Corman, who took director credit but only worked on it for four days: he then gave some of those chores, which went on over several months, to pupils Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman, Jack Hill (the co-writer) Jack Hale, Dennis Jakob and co-star Jack Nicholson. To save money, Corman re-used sets from The Haunted Palace and The Raven.
“In Paris, they are doing wonderful things to discover the nature of the mind.”
Starring is Boris Karloff (soldiering through with his professionalism intact), who plays a baron living in a castle visited by Napoleonic officer Nicholson (uh, not very good yet, to be generous). A strange woman, who may be a ghost, figures into the mix. At 91 minutes, it offers Sandra Knight (sexy, and at the time, Nicholson’s wife), Dick Miller and Dorothy Neuman.
Noteworthy mainly for its goofiness and for the name-drop people that worked on it, it does conclude with a flood-the-crypt sequence that gives testimony to the valiant work ethic of the 72-year old Boris, up to his chest in water, getting doused in the face with gallons of it while wrestling with Knight (low-cut ghost-girl blouse gets sopped in the meantime). As they try to strangle each other, the cascade knocks down the walls, and the chunks of ‘stone’ float, much like the sinking icebergs in the 1961 movie Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea.
TERROR TRAIN —–you have to start somewhere. Roger Spootiswoode would later direct the excellent Under Fire and the pretty good Air America, but he started in 1980 with this disposable addition to the slasher genre. He and cameraman John Alcott do some decent set-ups, emphasizing the claustrophobia angle of the train setting, but you really need be desperate for this kind of junk in order to indulge the 97 minutes required to see how many people get offed by the masked killer.
They made it for $4,200,000, the acquiring studio dumped another $5,000,000 to advertise it. They ended up grossing $8,000,000 from fans of this kind of bloody dopiness. On board are Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson, Hart Bochner and David Copperfield. Curtis had already screamed her way through Halloween, The Fog and Prom Night. To its credit, in this variation, with one exception all the victims are men. Gratitude where available.
THE TERRORISTS —–the worst movie of Sean Connery’s career? Dull as the driven dishwater, not even Jerry Goldsmith on the soundtrack or Sven Nykvist manning the camera can breathe any life into the frozen direction (Caspar Wrede, guilty) or permafrost writing (Paul Wheeler, sentenced) that kill off this 1975 muddle.
89 minutes crawl by as ‘Scandinavian’ (generic here, though it was filmed in Norway) police chief Connery has to deal with some standard ruthless bastards (led by Ian McShane) who’ve hijacked an airliner. Confusing, flatlined with drab dialogue, leaden action scenes and no payoff worth squirming through.
Also known as Ransom, it was filmed in Jan-Feb of ’74, but release was held up until spring of the following year, likely when the suits realized how their $1,500,000 had been wasted. With Jeffrey Wickham, Isabel Dean, John Quentin, Robert Harris and John Cording. Sean followed this dead herring with a pair of prize marlins, The Wind And The Lion and The Man Who Would Be King. Land those trophies and toss this chumm overboard.
TEXAS ACROSS THE RIVER—-insipid 1966 western farce with Dean Martin, Alain Delon, Rosemary Forsyth and Joey Bishop as an Indian named ‘Kronk’. It scoured $9,580,000, clicking #19 for the year. Dino just had a big hit with The Silencers, his TV show was a smash, records selling well, so his widespread popularity brought in the crowds, plus French heartthrob Delon was getting an international buildup at the time and Universal was pushing the pretty Miss Forsyth.
Tired foolishness, with game gamboling from Peter Graves, Michael Ansara and Andrew Prine. Directed by Michael Gordon, trooping the standard 101 minutes.
THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU’RE DEAD——beware creeps bearing a smug title. The debut project for director Gary Fleder (who would later do a respectable job with Runaway Jury) this 1995 attempt at a modern noir is just another of the many clone-offs vying for attention in the wake of a Mr. Tarantino.
Dismal reviews and a weeping public response of $530,000 left producers with $8,000,000 worth of egged faces. Precocious pseudo-hipness and a reliance on violence wears itself out long before its 115 minutes died (in Denver and everywhere else).
It has one almost-redeeming feature in a ferocious performance from Treat Williams, so good it deserved a much better movie. He rules the material that otherwise does nothing more than pay bills for Andy Garcia, Christopher Lloyd, William Forsythe, Christopher Walken, Bill Nunn, Jack Warden, Steve Buscemi, Fairuza Balk, Gabrielle Anwar, Bill Cobbs, Jenny McCarthy, Buddy Guy, Don Cheadle and Tiny Lister. Degenerative script thinks giving cast cute names can fool you into thinking it’s clever, so the actors are saddled with ‘Jimmy the Saint’, ‘Pieces’, ‘Franchise’, ‘Easy Wind’, ‘Critical Bill’ ‘Mister Shhh’, ‘The Man With The Plan’ and ‘Baby Sinister’. Thumbs way up for Treat, way down for the rest of this bilge.
THUNDER IN THE EAST —-Alan Ladd tries to run guns into India after Independence– and he doesn’t even work for the State Department! Prime Minister Charles Boyer (about as Hindu as Maurice Chevalier) advocates nay, and Deborah Kerr is calm, cultured and blind. Released in 1953, one of Ladd’s weaker efforts, and it doesn’t do a lot for international diplomacy either.
Based on the Alan Moorehead novel “The Rage Of The Vulture” (isn’t that already kind of stretching things for a title?), Charles Vidor directed 97 slapped-together minutes that also fiddle with Corinne Calvet, Cecil Kellaway, John Abbott, John Williams and an 11-year-old kid named Jill Oppenheim, better known as Jill St. John. It returned a respectable $2,000,000. Some chatter. Some gunshots. Alan charms Deb (softly playing the piano blind-kindly-English-lady style) with “I’ve got a gun and a half a million rupees. Whaddaya say?” I need to use that one some day.
Movie geographers note that Ladd had thrown fists, lead and attitude around China in 1943, Calcutta in 1947, Saigon in 1948 and Botany Bay in 1952 so thundering into the East was basically part of what a man’s gotta do. Eventually, by 1956, he’d make it to Santiago, also bearing guns for a revolution. It’s a living, and after all we desire a free Cuba.
TICKLE ME —–an electric shock would work better to wake you from the stupor this crummy Elvis movie will put you in. If not his worst (‘Competition on line 1’), then close enough, as he perjures himself on this 1965 cheapie directed by Norman Taurog.
This time out, he’s a rodeo cowboy, working at a ranch where models and actresses go to exercise and scamper around in bikinis. Fair enough, but then the rest of the bottom-scraping plot arrives, via treasure, a haunted house, 9 lip-synched songs, a couple of fights, and a rack of badly mugged jokes. One tune, “Night Rider” (originally done on the “Pot Luck” LP back in ’62) is a keeper, and co-stars Julie Adams and Jocelyn Lane are for sure sexy (Adams could act, Lane was terrible, though hot enough to short-out Vegas) but whether they will keep you there for 90 minutes is debatable.
Done for peanuts ($406,400 plus $750,000 for The King), with cardboard sets. Pretty bad. On hand are Jack Mullaney, Merry Anders, Connie Gilchrist, Barbara Werle, Edward Faulkner, Allison Hayes, Bill Williams and Red West (in case the King needs a cheeseburger). The va-va-va-voom La Lane, who adorned The Gamma People, The Son Of Hercules vs. Venus and War Gods Of Babylon, as well as “Playboy”, later married ‘Prince Alfonso of Hohenlohe-Langenburg’. This Elvoid gasser grossed $5,000,000. Later in the year he followed with Harum Scarum (speaking of candidates for Worst).
THE TOURIST—–crushing 2010 dud showcases the glory of Venice and the beauty of Angelina Jolie, but as a comedy-thriller it doesn’t even sputter, and Johnny Depp, trying his best to look grungy, has so little spark with his co-star he may as well have sent in a collection of stills they could have stood next to her.
An appalling $100,000,000 was used on this: it hurts to think of what could have been done with that. A hundred decent indies? Co-written and directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who had helmed the marvelous The Lives Of Others, but he didn’t just drop the ball here, he dropped one that already had a lead weight on it. A troubled production history set the stage, with two directors (Lasse Halstrom and Bharat Nalluri) leaving the project before von Donnersmarck came aboard. Then, word has it, overwhelmed by star power, he quit, too, before returning and hastily rewriting the script (five others had worked on it beforehand). It all dragged on for 11 months. Laughless.
103 minutes, with Timothy Dalton, Paul Bettany (working hard), Steven Berkoff and Rufus Sewell. It grossed $278,300,000 on the strength of the star duo alone, but Venice continues to sink. The movie is great to look at, too dull to make fun of.
TOWELHEAD —–guaranteed one of the worst cine-times you can have with 124 minutes, this hamfisted, offensive 2007 drama, written & directed by Alan Ball, leaves you feeling unclean. Set during the first Gulf War, the story has ‘Jasira Maroun’, a 13-year-old Arab-American girl (played by 18-year-old Summer Bashil) dealing with her puberty-exploding sexuality against a backdrop of stupid nativist racism, a thoughtless mother, a harsh father, and progressive ‘advances’ from a grown-up neighbor. The film revels in humiliation and discomfort.
Maria Bello and Toni Collette are wasted. Aaron Eckhart is fearlessly creepy as the neighbor, but his quality performance can’t redeem a truly ugly movie. How they thought this would be of help or value—let alone entertainment— to anyone is a mystery. Others in the dumpster: Chris Messina, Peter Macdissi, Matt Letscher and Chase Ellison. Pulse-free box-office response came to a grand total of $676,000. Loathsome.
Bonus onus: while you’re at it, do something else besides popping corn and plopping down in front of Tammy And The Doctor, Thank God It’s Friday, Timerider: The Adventure Of Lyle Swann, Times Square, They Call Me Bruce, The Toy, Trapped In Paradise, Tremors 2: Aftershocks, Two Guns, Two-Moon Junction, Two-Minute Warning….