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Comments by Professor_Petrie

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Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 10:46am

One of the last of Hammer's psychological Thrillers, CRESCENDO deserves somewhat more than the dismissive treatment it has received. Evidently the project was designed as a starring vehicle for the still-potent Joan Crawford. La Crawford's incomparable presence, dramatic strength and star power might have made something memorable of this minor piece, and the thought of her following Bette Davis into the Hammer fold is delicious to contemplate, but alas! it was not to be. When the film eventually came to production, the role intended for Joan Crawford was taken by Margaretta Scott. The absence of a star presence pretty much spelled doom for the whole show, but the final blow was the miscasting of offensively hammy American actor James Olson, who had previously helped to sink Hammer's MOON ZERO TWO. On the plus side, director Alan Gibson (of TV's THE AVENGERS) lent his slick, superficial brand of flash to wake the depressing movie from its doldrums. The one true saving grace is the committed and energetic performance of the always excellent Stefanie Powers, in her second and last Hammer thriller following the outstanding FANATIC opposite Tallulah Bankhead. The result is a watchable, if unmemorable, minor melodrama, unworthy of the Hammer name but interesting as a forerunner of the later Hammer television series. Tellingly, the film's U.S. release was delayed for two years before being unceremoniously dumped in support of Gibson's DRACULA A.D. 1972. (One can only pass in silence over the thought of Joan Crawford, Ralph Bates and Martine Beswicke...) 6/10 AVERAGE.

Related to: Crescendo (1970)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 10:05am

Another "diversification" dud from producer Michael Carreres, infinitely better than SLAVE GIRLS (which says nothing) but still an ill-conceived misfire. Even the presence of stalwarts Michael Ripper and Adrienne Corri are unable to save it. The comparison to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson is an apt one, but that team's JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN, made around the same time, blasts this mediocre Hammer bunt out of the galaxy. Director Roy Ward Baker, fresh from his excellent work on QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, does nothing to give the dullness a lift and the movie marks the beginning of a downward slide in his work. The flick is further sunk by the unctuous hamming of American actor James Olson, who had done well in Robert Wise's Science Fiction masterpiece THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN but proved a dead weight in this and his other Hammer film, CRESCENDO. 4/10 POOR.

Related to: Moon Zero Two (1969)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 9:47am

Completely nutty sequel to Hammer's SHE is hardly on the same level of excellence, but is colorful and trippy enough to be highly valued as a richly fruity camp classic. It's also fun escapist entertainment, lightly enjoyable with a cold drink on a hot summer day. In the title role of the eternal love goddess Ayesha, Olinka Berova doesn't erase memories of Ursula Andress in the Hammer original, but has a transcendent loveliness in her own vacant way. You go, Olinka! 6/10 AVERAGE.

Related to: The Vengeance Of She (1968)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 9:21am

This may or may not be, objectively, one of Hammer's very finest films or the best of their "Dracula" series, but it is by far my personal favorite on both counts. I never get tired of it and seem to enjoy it even more with every viewing. Even without Terence Fisher and Peter Cushing, I think the film itself represents Hammer at its most fully realized and evolved. I was blessed to have seen DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE first-run on the big theater screen--repeatedly! Forever in love with the graceful Veronica Carlson. If Hammer's costume horror films were, as Peter Cushing often said, "Grimm's Fairy Tales for adults", then this is the most exquitely romantic and visually beautiful of their Gothic fantasies. 10/10 EXTRAORDINARY. (I rate the film an extra star above 9/10 EXCELLENT because it is so beloved of me.)

Related to: Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 9:00am

Oh, I almost forgot. Flick is worthwhile if only for terrific supporting cast: Donald Houston (MANIAC), Andrew Kier (QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS), Niall McGinnis (Jacques Tourneur's CURSE/NIGHT OF THE DEMON) and Adrienne Corri (VAMPIRE CIRCUS).

Related to: The Viking Queen (1967)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 8:56am

Not bad as Hammer's costume adventures go; colorful, fairly entertaining and unmemorable. American actor Don Murray is all wrong as the hero. In the title role, "Carita", whoever the hell she is, looks great but is certainly no Ursula Andress. 6/10 AVERAGE.

Related to: The Viking Queen (1967)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 8:48am

Atrocious. Ludicrous. Hammer's worst by far. An awful waste of the awesome Martine Beswick. Not absurd enough to be amusing or negatively entertaining, despite a couple ridiculous laughs. Not "So bad it's good", just BAD. I imagine that one must be very, very drunk, and/or desperately horny, to enjoy this it all. I stiffed it out once; never again. This was Michael Carreres' idea of "diversification". SHAME! Hammer made some good films after this, but in a way they never fully recovered from this low point. 1/10 EXECRABLE.

Related to: Slave Girls (1967)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 8:25am

Well-acted, reasonably well-written, unusually character-driven movie shows some style on the part of director John Gilling (PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, THE REPTILE) in spite of cheap budget. An interesting-enough little movie if one can avoid laughing at the odd Mummy. 6/10 AVERAGE.

Related to: The Mummy's Shroud (1967)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 8:07am

7/10 = GOOD.

Related to: The Witches (1966)

Professor_Petrie

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25 Jan 2012, 8:02am

This film is so intelligent, literate, subtle and well-acted that it's a shame when it dissolves into an ugly, blatant exhibition at the finale. Up to that point, however, the story--from a script by Nigel Kneale (QUATERMASS)--remains an intriguing supernatural mystery. The production is graced by the star presence of Joan Fontaine (Alfred Hitchcock's REBECCA and SUSPICION, JANE EYRE) in her only horror film. Kay Walsh stands out brilliantly among a good supporting cast. Recommended in spite of it's ultimate failure. 7/10 (Would have rated it 8/10 were it not for the sloppy, ill-conceived ending.)

Related to: The Witches (1966)

Showing comments 1 to 10 of 26