the late show…

The Mysterious IslandI always think that, come the weekend, I will make up for the lack of sleep that I get during the week. While my weekday alarm is set for 5:30 AM, I also have an alarm the other way. Our internet shuts off at Midnight, so I usually use that as a sign that it is time for sleep. Sometimes though, on the weekend, it doesn’t shut off at midnight. The last two night, in fact, I was up until after one a.m without losing Internet… Meaning that I actually had to make an unassisted decision to shut down for the evening. Regardless, I was somewhat productive with that time. Friday I continued with my Harryhausen rock block by watching my third consecutive RH movie. One that, in fact, I hadn’t seen before, Mysterious Island. This was was really great! While there weren’t any compelling beings like we would expect after watching Jason and the Argonauts and (somewhat) Million Miles From Earth, the Harryhausen effect was very well used. There were some creatures, but they didn’t really move my: the giant crab, the giant bird, eh so. But all of the scenes of the hot air balloon were very pleasing. Giant Crabs, you say? Hot Air Balloons? What? Well, see we start off in the Civil War outside a confederate military prison camp. When a group of union soldiers (and a scurrilous captive confederate) make their dramatic escape during a huge rainstorm, they do some by commandeering a small hot air balloon. Unfortunately, they are not aware of the particular law of physics that says that if you take a small hot air balloon and fly off into a rainstorm, you can easily float for thousands of miles in a short time and end up on the other side of the world, where you are bound so crash, not in the middle of nowhere, but right off the shore of a strange (nay, mysterious) island. Well, they’ve learned that lesson, as do a couple of ladies whose boat was lost in a storm in the Atlantic and also ended up crashing by the same island half a world away…

From that point on, it’s trying to get by with the giant beasts and pirates buzzing around… Some close calls and a visit from one of Jules Verne’s great characters help to give the film another exciting spark. The movie is actually much better than I had expected. The intimidating volcanic isle scenery was good, the characters were fun, some good action and scenes of the always nice to see the Nautilus, the nicest submarine that’s ever been floated…. My only dissatisfaction was a lack of interest in the animals… Except for, of course, the giant “squid”, which was pretty great.

The Sword and the Sorcerer Last night I switched it up somewhat on my drive to 1 am. I did without the Harryhausen but went with another fantasy standard of my youth: The Sword and the Sorcerer.

Basically a campy piece of mediocrity, but one that is entertaining and that does revel in its campiness. The story of an evil king’s plotting to defeat all of his opponents, and a group of young rebels seeking revenge against his foul deeds. It doesn’t age well, looking like a cheap, early 80’s fantasy movie that no one took too seriously while making. It does have some things going for it: the casket made of animate faces, Xusia (the lichy-thing which rises from that casket), and the female lead, Kathleen Beller… But that’s about it. Though our hero is fairly entertaining even if (or maybe because) he has a hard time wiping that smarmy smirk off his face.

The movie certainly could have been better if made with, say, the attitude that went into the previous years Dragonslayer. Or if it had at least been saddled with high production values (like the previous years Excalibur)… The lame props (especially the three bladed ejector sword) and the bad acting of most of the actors, make it pretty forgettable. Though Richard Lynch (veteran of just about every b-movie/show from the 70’s and 80’s) as the evil king does make for a fine antagonist.


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