Folly Du Jour: “Hand of Death” (1962)


        “Hand of Death”  (1962)

     In “Hand of Death”  poor John Agar stars as his latest incarnation of an actor impersonating a career scientist whose altruism is perverted with exponentially monstrous results as he operates with an alarmingly elevated level of negligence. After allhandofdeathOS what are the odds if a movie scientist casually waves off warnings that his experiments are dangerous that he will shortly succumb to the very horrific side effects which are the predictable result of incautious laboratory protocols?

     “Hand of Death” relies exclusively on the innate reliability of intellectual hubris to be sufficient catalyst for an otherwise apparently rational man to carelessly pour a container of a newly discovered toxic solution (a nerve agent of all things!) all over their extremities and then compound this offense of logic by mopping up the excess as if he were suddenly the subject in a paper towel absorbency commercial. The purpose of this total surrender of safety etiquette lies exclusively in the need to justify yet another example of Hollywood’s dim understanding of the purpose of the scientific community outside of providing a means to transform the quietest mixing of chemicals into a homicidal Hellzapoppin. But as Agar mutates from congenial lab hermit into a charcoal briquette stylishly accessorized  in a fedora and trench coat worthy of a sun-crisped Tor Johnson wandering in from a film noir set, it becomes apparent that his curious transformation, entirely avoidable or not, is predicated not on the demands of the story, but rather to account for the only audience hook to this otherwise tepid SF/horror afterthought. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in Drive-In Movies, horror, John Agar, movie reviews, Movies, science, science fiction, writing | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Poe in the Cinema: “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1953)



telltaleheart1953     Notoriously unlucky in the myriad of film translations of his work, Edgar Allan Poe finds an unlikely ally with the techniques of a minimalist animation style from U.P.A. Studios, a happy meeting of the literary and the graphic arts to produce one of the finest cinematic interpretations of the author.

     The U.P.A. style, which rejects the attempts at mimicking realism, championed by the Disney studio, allows for the advancement of a film to find a uniquely individual visual voice, produced with a stylized design specific to subject of the film. Employing a technique which came to be known as “limited” animation, eschewing the need for the quantity of individual painted cels necessary to recreate the fluidity of live action, the animators at U.P.A. were able to ingeniously use the mixture of vivid narration (void of the visuals, the soundtrack alone would make for satisfying radio drama) and…

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Make Light, Not War: “Getting Straight” (1970)


gettingstraight_elliotgould0       Imagine the panic in Hollywood studios in the late 1960’s, many already absorbed by corporations who had no more knowledge of the film business than a dairy cow has about producing Dulce de Leche, and those same businessmen following marketing studies and flow charts to indicate which way the audience of the commercial cinema marketplace was leaning; as if there were any alchemic algorithm to predict box-office success, the reality of which is amply demonstrated by the mountains of beleagered and discarded cinematic albatrosses left to twist in the proverbial winds of infamy. So, imagine this same congress of artistically inexperienced businessmen calculating the cultural sway which caused an entire industry to rush to produce films in the short-lived but hopefully lucrative rebellious youth fad, reflecting then-current anti-establishment values which would  be the very antithesis of the the deciding corporate mindset. Compounding studio concerns was that they…

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Petals and Thorns: “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960)



0000littleshop2        “The Little Shop of Horrors” is a more broadly freewheeling horror-comedy than Roger Corman’s savagely on target beat counterculture satire “A Bucket of Blood”, a film with a far more ambitious agenda as it was satirizing a then contemporary cultural movement whereas, this minor opus concerning a pesky carnivorous plant is more of a gentle poke at both crummy horror films (which at the time of production usually involved a somewhat wince inducing, low-budget menace interrupting the hero’s attempts go get into the ingenue’s skirt- think the Hays Office as supernatural guardians of chastity and you get the idea) and while Charles B. Griffith’s screenplay isn’t as observationally sharp as his work on 0000littleshopthat film, nor as smart- the newer film is also less controlled in it’s focus (it has a tendency to drift when the location shifts from the flower shop) ,  it is still a sufficiently…

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Capra Conned: “Magic Town” (1947)


0000magictown      By the time director Frank Capra created his series of unrelenting Man of the People populist fantasies, it was clear that although he didn’t invent this particular genre (though even a cursory glance at the filmmaker’s autobiography cum declaration of divinity The Name Above the Titlemight certainly suggest otherwise), he certainly0000magictown5 perfected an archetypal formula by which a single individual imposes his ideals onto a greater citizenry to the exclusion of anyone daring to suggest alternative opinions lest they be pegged as (surprisingly without irony) demagogues or corrupt power brokers. The fact that the Capra formula was also steeped in a creepy masqueraded fascism that sugarcoated the proposition of a singularly enforced populist view being as unhealthy for the social collective with an abundance of aw shucks eccentricity-  generally identified as Capracorn  -that gives the impression a genuine philosophical difference in the division between opposing but ultimately similarly…

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#MeBoo: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2020 Edition, Vol. 35-24-36-43

horror0#MeBoo:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2020 Edition, Vol. 36-24-36-43

    Amid all of the fuss of the current extended job interview between two fellows who, in the real world, would be underqualified to handle the complexities of being given the responsibility of bagging groceries at the local Trader Joe’s (Thank goodness politics happens to be the lone professional pursuit which mandatorily requires neither experience nor a discernible skill set.), the world seems to have forgotten (or have been mercilesslyhorrorgif distracted from, by the private designs of a shamelessly mind deadening mass media) the critical social issues which just mere months ago were aggressively hammered into our collective skulls as being of such importance that any casual dismissal of said issues would forever corrupt and diminish our very characters into the dustbin of infamy. And so, in the spirit of renewing our commitment to addressing grievous societal ills (though without any commitment to take said ills seriously), we present this month’s edition of Boston’s most revered pastime not containing references to either chowder or taxation, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those wonderful folks who bring us SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this Halloween-themed edition we present a celebration of female empowerment and independence as represented in the cinema in the form of horrible, dangerous (often murderous), often supernaturally generated figures of dread and horror (with a special emphasis on one particular-  though unnamed  -individual who all dedicated readers of CSR will certainly not fail to recognize). Your task, is to endure the twenty five frightful images which follow, and to correctly identify the titles of all of the corresponding films. The first to do so will receive the nerve-racking CSR Culture Shock Award, the perfect substitution for an expensive cordial on a dark and stormy night. Good luck.



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Chandler’s Trailers: “Humanoids From the Deep” (1980)


humanoidsfromthedeep1“Humanoids From the Deep” (1980)  If one were uncertain as to the gravity of the situation in the small fishing hamlet of Noyo, California one would need no further measurement than the overbearingly ominous music of James Horner which emphasizes, to the point of exhaustion, the menace inherent in every forest twig, ripple of water or drifting finger of morning mist. Though Horner’s muscular faux-Goldsmith scoring is unceasingly oppressive, the composer  provides the only genuine atmosphere to Barbara Peeters’ “Humanoids From the Deep”, a haphazard pastiche of B-movie SF tropes of irresponsible science run amok and more au courant thematic glances at environmentalism and racial disharmony, which manages to be simultaneously sanctimoniously preachy and exploitatively vulgar, but in neither regard entertaining nor competently wrought.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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To Tell the Truth: “Valerie” (1957)

WOMAN IN VIOLENT REPOSE: This Vemeer-like opening image from Gerd Oswald’s “Valerie” sets the stage for a Western less interested in the who than in the why of what appears to be a spontaneous multiple killing.

         “Valerie”  (1957)

    Given the artificial boundaries of ironically disreputable expressions of human behavior self-imposed on the American film industry by a proselytizing Production Code valerieINand a simultaneous melodramatic bent in which even the most vital details of history were often less important than accurate period beading of costumes, is it any wonder that truth has emerged as an instinctively elusive element in the Hollywood cinema firmament?

    Alfred Hitchcock once confused audiences and outraged critics in “Stage Fright” with the inclusion of a flashback of a character’s remembrance to be revealed as fraudulent; a perfectly legitimate narrative stratagem in keeping with the director’s celebrated penchant for viewer manipulation. Yet, in this instance, his directorial gamesmanship was met with derisive cries of “cheat” and “foul!”, as if he had betrayed an unwritten confidence between storyteller and patron; with a sudden and convenient epidemic of public amnesia that such trickery being the tool of a charlatan, only explanation in forgetting that the use of such manipulative shenanigans were precisely how Hitchcock gained his universal reputation in the first place. A mere two years later, Akira Kurosawa was applauded for handily obliterating the reliability of the dramaturgy of objective observation, though unlike Hitchcock, the deconstructive aims of “Rashomon” were met with universal applause, despite (or more likely, because of the finality in the film’s acquiescence of a radical reformation of traditional narrative to the realm of a deliberate unknowing. (Critics generally welcome the prospect of  the “artistically’ obtuse as it affords the appreciative reviewer a belief that they hold intellectual prestige over their audience).

     Occupying a middle ground between Hitchcock’s bald manipulation and the structural formality of Kurosawa‘s designed obscurity, Gerd Oswald’s surprisingly absorbing “Valerie” opens with an abrupt pre-credit massacre after which the film appears to settle into the guise of a fairly pedestrian trial drama in which the opening events will be explained. Adding to the curious nature of circumstance is the fact that the killings are perpetrated by a man whose reputation as a Civil War hero and local figure of prominent stature is announced as being unimpeachable; while his wife Valerie, who has miraculously survived the shooting, is publicly derided as a trollop deserving of her fate.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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If You Have the Time to Read This, You’re Not Earning Your Pay: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 2020 Special Labor Day Edition, Vol. 40/5

alaborb0If You Have Time to Read This, You’re Not Earning Your Pay: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Sept. 202 Special Labor Day Edition, Vol. 40/5

    In celebration of the American holiday acknowledging the working class, all of the effort required to put together this very special edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz was expended a day ahead, therefore the expected (and not undeserved) reactions from our loyal readers ( in the form of the gnashing of teeth, the sacrificial burning in effigy of a certain unnamed subterranean dwelling Presidential candidate, the sending of large cash alaborsbgifdonations, etc., etc., etc.) of sympathy for a hard working (no chance of that) fellow who spends every day exercising the grey cells to little or no result, are to no avail. However, in the spirit of magnanimity toward those we at CSR are forced to share the dwindling supply of fresh oxygen with, we present this month’s edition of America’s most controversial alternative to literacy and common sense, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those brave distributors of  SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast addiction. In this edition, we once again celebrate those fine individuals who sell their souls for meager compensation to an ungrateful employer class. Your job is to identify all twenty five films. The first to do so will receive a newly polished CSR Culture Shock Award, guaranteed to bring a handsome return of five to ten in Attica when attempting to redeem it for cash at your local pawn shop. Good luck. 


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It Came From the File Cabinet: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Late Aug./Early Sept. 2020 Edition, Vol. 47

alabor24It Came From the File Cabinet: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Late Aug./Early Sept. 2020 Edition, Vol. 47

     It is with great sorrow that we at Chandler Swain Reviews regret to inform you that our traditional method of signaling the opening of the calendar month with the release of an all new Classic Film Images Photo Quiz will continue. Regardless of the thousandsalaborgif of pleas to desist from our loyal reader, as well as one particularly curious promissory threat of hostilities, delivered from a country to remain unmentioned but located in the Pacific Rim by diplomatic pouch, advising an immediate cessation to our monthly exercise in quizmaster frivolity, we shall continue. Granted, one of the primary burdens in compiling a monthly photo quiz which is both challenging and interesting to the reader is the invention of a theme which will allow for the compilation of images that are aesthetically nurturing to the eye as well as compellingly connective to that theme in a way which will enhance the puzzle solving experience, but in this month’s edition we have discarded any such laborious notions. So, without further ado we bring you this month’s edition (didn’t we just say that?) of America’s favorite cerebral exercise without the benefit of Jell-O or female wrestlers, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you as always by those grand folks who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we have simply, once again, dug our ink-stained little paws into our photo archives and have retrieved whatever fate determines to be a baseless and totally random series of interesting but nevertheless unconnected pieces to a larger puzzle. So, it is up to you to identify all thirty of the following images from the world of cinema without the assistance of a thematic clue. Ha! The first to correctly identify all thirty films will receive the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-digestively regular CSR Culture Shock Award; an internationally recognized testimonial to the fine art of wasting time with panache. Good luck.  

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This is No Way to Share Popcorn

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Mirror, Mirror: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2020 Edition, Vol. XI-IX

Mirror, Mirror:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, July 2020 Edition, Vol. XI-IX

    History seems fated to repeat itself. The Age of the Selfie is the direct antecedent of the Golden Age of Mirror Gazing and both depend on the unbecoming ability to be fascinated by one’s own image while simultaneously remaining unaware that the latest series of Botox injections have relieved the elasticity from your natural features and left you with the pop-eyed grimace of a Tiki head. Then again, the rest of us can use a chuckle. With this anecdotal introductory note in mind, we present this month’s edition of America’s most persuasive excuse for the conversion of all secondary schools into heavily fortified reform facilities, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those fine folks who market SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we cast our typically gloomy eye on the simple mirror and its narcissistic abuse in the cinema (And believe us when we tell you, we haven’t even scratched the surface.) Your task is to correctly identify all twenty five images and to let us know. Otherwise it’s a rather fruitless venture if you keep it to yourself. The first to correctly identify all will receive the ever-prestigious CSR Culture Shock Award, now fortified with Vitamin B12 and Riboflavin. Good luck.  


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No Explanation Necessary…

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Shameless Advertising in a Time of Crisis

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go In The Water…

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Blood and Sand: “The Longest Day” (1962)


     “The Longest Day”   (1962)

(Originally published June 23, 2013)

    Darryl F. Zanuck’s monumental war epic depicting the events of the D-Day invasion of World War 2 has the disadvantage of not only following dozens of characters over dozens of different locations, but also the input of three different credited directors working to patch a cohesive picture of just what did go on during the massive invasion of Normandy on that “longest day” (as referred to in a quote by German Field Marshal Irwin Rommel) on June 6, 1944.  Add to that, the fact that, unique in a big-budget studio epic, disregarding the expectations of the audience, the story is presented entirely in correct linguistic terms: the French and Germans speak in their native tongues with the assistance of subtitles. By all rights, this should be a colossal boondoggle, a confused and incoherent film not unlike Rene Clement’s “Paris brule-t-il?” or the Phil Feldman fiasco cobbled from bits of Ian Fleming’s “Casino Royale”. Happily, this is not the case.

     “The Longest Day” is, in fact, one of the most intelligently realized, dramatically cohesive, literate films on World War II ever made; certainly light years ahead of the Hollywood studio epics that permeated the 50’s and 60’s with such egregiously insulting results such as the disastrous “Battle of the Bulge”- a film so haphazard it had the most famous Winter battle of modern combat history being fought in the desert.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in 1960's cinema, drive-in cinema, Drive-In Movies, Film, Film Reviews, John Wayne, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Richard Burton, war movies, World War II | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Beetley Brit Brings Brutal Beatdown in Bi-Coastal Braintease Bacchanal


“If He Can Do It, I Can Do Anything” says North Korean spokesperson for Slim Fast, Kim Jong-un, upon hearing of Beetley’s own Grouchy Pete’s second internet championship crown in conquering the CSR Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, news that has ignited spontaneous religious fervor around the globe now that proof has conclusively arrived that both Pigs Can Fly and Hell Will, indeed, Freeze Over.  In an unrelated story, during his annual nightly state cocktail bash (see above) Canadian Prime Minister Justin “Bieber” Trudeau acknowledges the accomplishment of his English ally from across the pond  with the stirring pronouncement: “Huh? Who?”

  Supposed Ex-Royal Interloper Meghan              Stews at Attention Grabbing Moose                           Stalker From Beetley

 Reported to Have Asked “Grandmummy” to Declare                           War on “Inconvenient” Town

     Creating the greatest furor on American soil since the early 60’s arrival of the Fab Four, and generating more bipartisan support to keep out an objectionable foreign personage since the War of 1812, Beetley’s own Grouchy Pete has succeeded in solving the CSR Classic Film Images Photo Quiz for the second time in the past year, a suspicious action which has tweaked the interest of Scotland Yard, Interpol and an anonymous Deep State informant known only as “Ollie”. Though resisted by both Conservative and Labour leaders, members of the newly formed Libation Party have petitioned for the transplanted Londoner, who is affectionately referred to by Beetley townsfolk as “that crank who complains about the weather” to be recognized for his elevation in the nation’s stature in useless information with the bestowing of an OBE, though due to a clerical error, his nomination was sent to an OBGYN, though through an abundance of fortunate circumstances, it appears that it is now entirely permissible to address the Beetley quiz whiz as Dame Pete. Honorariums also include a special edition of the CSR Culture Shock Award (see below), bestowed exclusively upon those select few who have determined that the very turning of the Earth is so bereft of meaning (I hope all of this sterling analysis is appreciated as it’s resulting in an existential hand cramp.) that they need a second crack at this substantial yet trivial pursuit. Congratulations.


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In Black and White: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2020 Edition, Vol. -30-

In Black and White: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, June 2020 Edition, Vol. -30-

   What’s black and white and red all over? Pravda naturally. However, when it comes to Hollywood, the answer would more likely be Panda Tartare (being the selflessly dedicated environmentalists they profess to be and all), none of which has anything to do (well, in a roundabout way it does) with introducing this month’s edition of America’s favorite brain buster, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by those amusing folks who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. With apologies to the film industry which is certainly populated by functional illiterates (the only explanation for the terrible scripts moved into production, which surely no one could have possibly read), this edition features the process of reading (“Put down your NOOKS you pathetic losers and crack a real book!” -a message from the American Library Council of Greater Boston and The South Boston Society of Excess Drinking & Historic Public Vomiting) both magazines and newspapers as depicted in film; obviously an activity which is as foreign to the millennial generation as manual typing, dialing a phone or critical thinking, but Life is neither easy nor fair so stop your blubbering, pay attention and learn. The following sweet sixteen images portray a cinematic depiction of using a magazine or newspaper for its intended purpose. Your task is to identify all sixteen films and possibly win (if you’re the first correct contestant) the coveted and sugar-free CSR Culture Shock. Good luck.


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Java Buzz: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Special Caffeine-Fueled B. Sisters Café Mid-May 2020 Edition, Vol. 1/2 & 1/2

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Java Buzz: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Special Caffeine-Fueled B. Sisters Café Mid-May 2020 Edition, Vol. 1/2 & 1/2  é     Live and more alert than is (in theory) humanly safe after nine straight large cups of Cold Brew … Continue reading

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Attention Puny Earthlings! A Special Announcement Follows…

BLONDE BOMBSHELL ON THE PROWL: Is this any way to start a special broadcast? You bet it is, especially if you’re trying to cut through the dreary malaise to which the internet has been privy these past few months. Hey World, stop being so glum and party like it’s Saturday night at Hef’s.


    …cognitively speaking of course. (Unfortunately this omits a particularly sad individual who is currently running/sitting/hibernating/drooling for office for the DMC, but seems quite content to spend his autumn hours neatly snuggled in what appears to be an oak paneled version of Luray Caverns where he is no doubt secretly biding his time with all manner of bat species to heroically and single-handedly solve the riddle of the pandemic. Or some such guano as that.)

    Now that we have your attention, may we direct you to the following head scratcher, an answer (correct answer that is, so keep your legal representation at bay) to which will grant the first smart cookie possession of the coveted CSR Culture Shock Award, which-  as it happens  -is a timely substitute for masking, hand washing and social distancing. It won’t protect you from disease… but you’ll die with intellectual distinction. All judgments on the answers by those who wish to participate are final and not subject to discussion, as enforced by our very cranky sergeant-at-arms. Good luck.


There was a film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture which carelessly featured a visible poster for a film which happened to be nominated for Best Picture in the preceding year. The problem was that the later film took place in a time frame earlier than the featured poster’s film’s existence, hence the anachronism.What is the name of both the film and the name of the film whose poster is featured? 


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Happy MOTHER Day, CSR-Style

      A Holiday Missive to “MOTHER”

    Given that the average male Yale graduate’s (we’ve talked to ’em… they’re a sad bunch)  day is given over to dealing with feelings of guilt and inadequacy so deeply ingrained they couldn’t be excavated by a team of oil drillers not to mention an army of $300 per session therapists whose stifling of expulsions of shocked repulsion or helpless laughter is strenuous enough to rupture a spleen, it should come as no surprise that one of the sources of lifelong neuroses has been surreptitiously been made to be the subject of obedient celebration by the nefarious mercenaries of that sovereign conglomeration of purveyors of male emasculation (second only to Zales in the latest BFI poll), Hallmark. So, without any sympathy to those weaklings who lie prostrate before the alter of Labor Pains as a Force of Socio-Economic Blackmail Greater Than Atomic Weaponry (a theory believed to have originated in the works of Enrico Fermi), here is our recognition of your plight and our complete indifference to it.  For those who take offense to such proto-patriarchal sentiments, just keep in mind: “We all go a little mad sometimes.”


Posted in Boston, children, Culture, holidays, humor, Movies, parenting, psychiatry, women, zombies | Tagged | 2 Comments

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, May 2020 Edition, Vol. .400

It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, May 2020 Edition, Vol. .400

   During what will undoubtedly be referred to by some historians as The Great Purell Hunt of 2020 (while others will more sensibly remember it as The Summer We Were Spared The Latest Five Summer Offenses Starring The Rock), we here at CSR are furthering our dedication to exposing the world of cinema to an unsuspecting populace and finding decent take-out fried clams within a thirty block radius. (A venture which will, no doubt, find little empathy from those who populate Vermont as we have heard that they have happily surrendered to cannibalism years ago.) Still, culture must persevere beyond the making of yogurt, which brings us to this month’s edition of America’s favorite lockdown distraction, for which there is as they say at Benny Fong’s House of Fong- “no substitutions!”  -the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by the fine folks who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast placebo. In this edition we pay homage to the world of sports as seen in the movies. For those too young to remember, sports were those competitive athletic competitions played either by individuals or teams live in the days before it was deemed sufficient by unimaginative sports cable networks, dull-witted leagues and the usual roster of Washington swamp creatures ( not to mention the invaluable participation of a Red Chinese cabal that couldn’t properly rule a public toilet never mind the world) to substitute all forms of recreational diversion with reruns of 2007 games between the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals, perhaps the only spectacle sufficient to make cable television’s obsession with endlessly broadcasting the Adam Sandler version of “The Longest Yard” seem less horrifying by comparison. The following twenty five images depict the thrill of competition, or characters who are engaged in athletic endeavors in the movies. Your task is to identify all twenty five correctly and without malice toward the Royal Family or their ancillary affiliations.. The first to do so will be the non-contact recipients of the sacred CSR Culture Shock Award, the only proven antidote to both viral related depression and the painful itch of inflamed hemorrhoidal tissue. Good luck.



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Torture Scorn: “Rambo: Last Blood” (2019)


ROCKY BY ANY OTHER NAME: Sometime during “Rambo: Last Blood”, the latest (and hopefully the final, as promised) chapter in the increasingly blood-soaked John Rambo saga, it becomes apparent that the eponymous hero has come to resemble one of the sandstone buttes of Monument Valley, so much so that it’s difficult to resist the feeling that at any moment one of John Ford’s beloved cavalry troops should be galloping around the ankles of star/co-author Sylvester Stallone, charging toward an eleventh hour rescue.

      “Rambo: Last Blood”  (2019)

    By this point in the increasingly indefensible gorefest known as the Rambo franchise,  having abandoned the original novel and film’s conception of a man irretrievably changed rambolastbloodOSand haunted by Vietnam (the War, not the tourist trap), “Rambo: Last Blood”, the latest excuse for an emergency manufacturing of body bags, is bereft of even the slightest hint of social commentary and aims strictly down the path of the revenge spree in the Jason Voorhees tradition. The film wastes no time showing it intends to match its testosterone fueled hero grunt for grunt by blasting Brian Tyler’s clamorous score over the most innocuous of incidents. Thus an undramatic scene of driving down a rural highway takes on unwarranted portents of imminent violence simply as an aural gut punch designed to work the audience over and exhaust visceral resistance.

     The film operates on the Let’s Do the Stupidest Thing Possible to Put Ourselves in Danger Principle, so when Rambo’s strenuously advises Gabrielle, a friend’s granddaughter whom he has adopted as his own, to resist crossing into Mexico to seek out the no-account scoundrel of a father who abandoned her, she…

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

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All Banged Up and No Place to Go: “Number One” (1969)


A Full Glass of Brooding With a Jazz Chaser: Aging New Orleans quarterback “Cat” Catlan (Charlton Heston) sullenly ponders his future while Al Hirt provides needless local color in Tom Gries’ consistently distracted sports drama “Number One”.

        “Number One”  (1969)

    Considering the amount of complex psychology involved in both the achieving and the rudimentary maintenance of high level performance in sports, it is surprising how little of this is reflected in Hollywood’s occasional forays into the world of athletics; that is unless one considers the film industry’s usual lazy path in the exploration of the human experience in favor of easy and proven formula (even if this approach proves repeatedly insubstantial, as there is no safer method in maintaining one’s professional status in the film industry than in resisting the risk of originality). Why bother with the unglamorous reality of individual or group anxieties consistent with high stakes competitiveness when there are fertile fields of coarse melodrama, adultery and colorful substance abuse to enliven the usual offerings of artificial treacle enhanced tales of either miraculous inspiration of tear-jerker heartbreak? With the field of  cinema sports reduced to convenient and relentlessly repetitive and shallow formulaic contrivance, it is little wonder the popularized conception of the “dumb jock” was seldom challenged.

    “Number One”, which proposes a deeper look at the base insecurity of the competitive ego, is the kind of film whose occasional moments of interest only serve to magnify the disappointment in the fact that what is substantial is limited to the momentary. Frequently the film halts for what are probably meant as lyrical interludes of reflection,  (including the umpteenth dissolve heavy montage of a tryst before a roaring fireplace), a directorial penchant which beckons impatience considering how sparse the attention granted penetrating character development which would fortifying the few truly affecting scenes in the film.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Charlton Heston, football, Romance, sports, women, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chandler’s Trailers: “Where Does It Hurt?” (1972)

wheredoesithurt4“Where Does It Hurt?” (1972) If Paddy Chayefsky’s attempt at satirizing the medical establishment fell short of the mark in Arthur Hiller’s “The Hospital” from the previous year, Rod Amateau’s rather loathsome burlesque “Where Does It Hurt?” arrives as a far less bitter, but certainly more tiresome prescription for comedy. Examining the exploits within the fictitious Vista Vue Hospital the film communicates a callous scorn at the entirety of the medical profession; not merely the executive bean counters, but every nurse, doctor, orderly and specimen jar in view. The method of the film’s increasingly strained attempts at humor consists entirely of noisy set-ups to obvious and crude punchlines which are unceasingly punctuated with inappropriate and irritating country music insertions that seem intended to act as an electric prod catalyst to cue audience reaction (a filmic version of the boob tube laugh track?) but even the most undiscriminating sense of humor would find insubstantial reason to summon a chuckle here.
To read the complete review, click the following link to:
Posted in books, comedy, medicine, Movies, Peter Sellers, Reviews, writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

What the Peeper Saw: “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?” (1970)

          “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?”  (1970)

          Alan Funt’s “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?” begins with whatdoyousaytoanakedladyOSthe noted television Peeping Tom/provocateur fiddling with his surveillance equipment with the dedicated solemnity of a senior member of the Stasi. If moving from the boob tube to the boob screen is meant to signal an elevation of serious purpose to Funt’s signatory hidden camera hijinks, this intention comes under withering scrutiny both in the form of the naked triviality of ideas related in the opening salvo of “Candid Camera” situations, and, more explicitly, in the heated excoriation of the film’s content by an elder member of a focus group whose purpose appears to provide further surreptitiously recorded discomfort (Funt’s stock in trade) as they view the same footage as the paying theatrical patron.

    This ill-considered film within a film conception backfires violently with an initial unrelenting salvo of accusations of promoting rank vulgarity directly aimed at the nominally flippant exploiter of other’s public embarrassment who, in turn, responds with little more than flippant foot stomping. These commentative sessions are…

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, sex, Television, women | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Alone Again, Unnaturally: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Apr. 2020 Edition, Vol. 4077

Alone Again, Unnaturally:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Apr. 2020 Edition, Vol. 4077

Emerging from a self-imposed exile just in time to notice that the rest of the world seems to have cribbed our idea for a temporary avoidance of socialization (there would be a pending lawsuit for violation of intellectual property except that China is involved and we know that quarantined ship has sailed far too many times for comfort), we here at CSR have decided to be a world leader (since the example set by the Center for Disease Confusion appears incapable of explaining as to just what useful preparatory and preventative measures they’ve spent billions of dollars and supposedly dedicated decades of study on except possibly in renting several copies of  “Outbreak”) in the administration of the correct employment of social distancing for fun and profit. (We have been lauded as pioneers in ignoring Vermont for years.) Just consider that the marshaling of all the collected knowledge and wisdom of global governments and medical experts being reduced to a simple “don’t go near your neighbor”, while we’ve been doing exactly that that for years and but have unjustly been regarded as “effete snobs” (thank you Spiro Agnew) for our efforts. With this bit of skewered social engineering in mind we present this month’s edition-  and return of  -America’s most antiseptic source of brain mold, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you, as always, by the distributors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition, we consider the humble occasion of solitary confinement as documented in the motion picture (sort of like sitting in one of the empty movie houses dotting the globe, only without the rodents and the prerequisite gummy floors). Your task (and remember, a task is as good as a sucker bet… whatever, we’re film critics, not theologians) is to correctly identify the twenty five images and the titles of the films they are sourced from (nice try Butch, but just acknowledging there are twenty five pictures doesn’t win any bouquets). The first to correctly identify all twenty five will receive the 99.9% germ free CSR Culture Shock Award. Good luck.


Posted in books, Boston, British films, China, Cold War, crime, Drive-In Movies, horror, Movies, Mystery, war movies, women, writing | 6 Comments

Battle Fatigue: “Le prigioniere dell’isola del diavolo” (1962)

       “Le prigioniere dell’isola del diavolo” (1962)

        The mere mention of a film inclusive of the women in the spurious genre of prison films usually conjures salacious images of graciously exploitative shower scenes, jailhouse togs strategically rended, if not altogether shredded and discarded, during furious bouts of inter-cell block catfighting and leering, sadistic wardens (or conveniently interchangeable lesbian matrons) abusing the most curvaceous inmates with openly symbolic phallic batons.

    Rebuking the entirety of these most predictable genre tropes , “Le prigioniere dell’isola del diavolo” (aka, “Women of Devil’s Island”) dispenses with the lurid tone of this generally disreputable genre by substituting a narrative frustratingly absent of invention (exploitative or otherwise), presented in such a languid fashion as to make the viewer share the sensation of endless confinement. 

    Political prisoner Martine Foucher (Michèle Mercier) is among dozens of  similarly elegantly costumed female murderers, thieves and prostitutes being shipped to the notorious penal colony where the genuine purpose of the ladies’ sentences is in their forced usefulness in panning for gold. Upon arrival, Martine searches for her sister Jeanette (Federica Ranchi) who has preceded her in incarceration but finds her sibling denying her true identity, a mysterywomendevilsisland12 which will prove not only short-lived but irrelevant to the one genuine riddle posed by the film: just how do these women who labor in the swamp all day long continue to maintain an impressive level of cosmetic integrity as well as maintaining their often architecturally impressive hairstyles?  Perhaps the explanatory subplot concerning a cell block Avon representative had been left on the cutting room floor?

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Italian cinema, Movies, Romance, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Wrapping Up: “The Mummy” (1959)


PHARAOH GOT YOUR TONGUE?:  High priest Kharis (Christopher Lee) is ceremoniously given an Egyptian version of nip and tuck as a consequence of his sacrilegious romantic obsession toward the late Princess Ananka Terence Fisher’s “The Mummy”.

        “The Mummy”      (1959)

     Hammer Film’s 1959 revival of “The Mummy” (which inevitably means Terence Fisher’s 1959 revival  of “The Mummy”) forgoes the eponymous  character of the 1932 Karl Freund original as the sole antagonist and instead reduces the bandaged one to a reduced importance, adhering more to the conventions of the later 1940’s Universal Mummy films in which the wrapped menace is used primarily as a vehicle of destruction under the guidance of an external character with a grudge.

    Thus, in this ostensible Hammer Films reinvention rather than direct remake, the mantel of villainy once assumed by Boris Karloff’s resurrected Kharis has now been undertaken by the underrated George Patel which is fortunate as from authorial conception to finished performance it’s a dynamically rewarding meeting of role and actor; a fortuitous occasion which finds itself in a film in which the formulaic roles of both villainy and heroism are granted the benefit of the somewhat surprising approach of granting the nominal villain of the piece (or more correctly stated, the one who inhabits the traditional genre role of “bad guy”) as a not unmotivated defender of both faith and cultural sovereignty. 

     Jimmy Sangster’s screenplay is characteristically light on logic but surprisingly adept at wielding a sharpened stick of provocative editorial points which merit scrutiny for some unexpectedly rewarding, thematically antagonistic pleasures. His scenario wisely jettisons the reincarnation angle so tiresomely prevalent in spook shows, replacing mummy-59_o_GIFSoup.comthis additional supernatural baggage with a more acceptable (if suspiciously convenient) cosmetically coincidental resemblance which abandons the original’s eleventh hour spiritual collusion of the ingenue with the more tragic implications of eternal missed opportunities (which surface in the film’s most striking staged moment) that may lessen the “horror” angle but magnifies, ever so briefly, whatever scraps of human drama that emerge from an otherwise lackadaisical adherence to the rather pedestrian monster movie narrative formula which were the calling card and eventual creatively exhausted death knell of the Universal horror productions. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Movies | 2 Comments

Diplomatic Affairs: “Die lady” (1964)


“Die lady”  (1964) Starring Ingrid Thulin, Paul Hubschmid, Nikos Kourkoulos, Claudine Auger, Bernard Verley. Written by Peter Berneis. Directed by Han Albin & Peter Berneis. (aka “Games of Desire”) Ingrid Thulin stars as Nadine, the trophy wife to Elliot, a secretly homosexual Swedish ambassador to Greece, who finds herself embroiled in a love triangle which speedily escalates into a mating game suggestive of an unnecessary level of complication which is actually confusion resulting from an execution lacking in any appreciable understanding of coherent expository presentation. The film is also surprisingly tawdry in that phony pseudo-Vadim mode which advanced the notion that European films of the times were not only more deliberately provocative but sexually sophisticated than Hollywood product. However, deliberate sleaziness seldom equals maturity, only a kinship to the more honestly indulgent softcore sexploitation films that would adorn many a neighborhood movie house screen of dubious reputation in the 1960’s;  movies meant to satisfy indulgences in voyeuristic carnality without the intrusion of the pretense of Art. (Hollywood would have taken the same material and made a sex comedy starring Tony Curtis and Virna Lisi. The industry may have been notoriously skittish for decades about the subject of sex, but when they did embrace it it was usually with a sense of humor largely absent in European film outside of the Italians.) 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Ingrid Thulin, movie reviews, Movies, psychiatry, Romance, sex, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Fear is the Key: “Machine Gun Kelly” (1958)



  “Machine Gun Kelly” (1958)

   Roger Corman directs this oddly unaffecting gangster film which while predictably short on accurate historic detail, curiously substitutes enough unconvincing. psychodrama to sabotage a dozen B-pictures.

     In chronicling the exaggerated myths surrounding the career arc of notorious Depression-era criminal George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Corman’s film packs his opening reels with as much violent mayhem as his impressively stretched meager budget can sustain, including several well crafted and tense robbery sequences and some less impressive (not to mention credibility straining) encounters with a perpetually irate caged mountain cat. If these initial salvos of antisocial mayhem promise a spirited celebration of the type of immorality to which the industry’s Production Code hypocritically condemned while Hollywood consistently enjoyed demonstrating its effortless capacity to produce, the authoritative hostility of  the title character is squashed by a sudden and unfortunately persistent insistence on undercutting his inveterate leadership resolve.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in biography, Charles Bronson, crime, History, Movies, Roger Corman, women, writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Is That Snow Falling From The Sky Or Are You Just Glad to See Me?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2019 Edition,Vol. 6 – 12″

Is That Show Falling From The Sky Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Dec. 2019 Edition, Vol. 6 – 12″

Not a subscriber to climate change (we here at CSR much prefer the madcap humor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek), there seems to be little reason for the continuous panic every time there is an announcement of snowfall, sunshine, rain, cold or warm weather, when the true sign of the coming apocalypse is clearly any time TCM announces Elizabeth Taylor as the Star of the Month. The wintry anticipation of light and airy flakes falling from the sky is certainly preferable to every time ISRO shoots a lunar probe into the sky; an occasion which has us rushing to the CSR warehouse for our Skylab Debris Detection helmets. Still, there are those of our readers who are dedicated to the proposition that all atmospheric conspiracy theories are created equal, and with that remarkably shameless micro-thread of a segue in mind, we introduce this month’s edition of the National Weather Bureau’s favorite distraction on which to blame for conveniently missing that F-5 funnel headingfreefallgif straight for a source of unusually concentrated hot air in Chappaqua, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you-  as always  -by those good folks who export SKITTLES, the favorite breakfast candy of Ukrainian Biden campaign workers. In this edition we salute those fun loving guys and gals (which should cover everyone, despite the protestations of certain members of Congress, the validity of whose educational credentials are under scrutiny as we speak) who deem to descend to the surface of the Earth in a manner unapproved by three out five major airlines (the exception being bratty kids with whom a quick exit is universally applauded), and that, of course, means a premature departure rudely interrupting the captain’s point of interest announcement as you are flying over a national landmark (“Ladies and gentlemen, if you would look to your right you will see that we are flying over Schiff Canyon, a vast depression from which no one has ever escaped.”). We, naturally, refer to the fine art of parachuting…. unless one forgets one’s gear in which case you just look foolish and will likely leave an unsightly stain on the landscape. The following twenty five images depict people falling or preparing to fall from the sky, often with great panache, but more often than not with an emergency need for Depends. Your mission, should you decide you have nothing better to do in life, is to correctly identify the twenty five films from which these stills have been lifted. The first to correctly identify all twenty five will receive the coveted and non-gravitationally challenged CSR Culture Shock Award, suitable for free drinks in the Captain’s Lounge at Minsk-2 in Belarus. Good luck.



Posted in black cinema, books, British films, Cold War, crime, Drive-In Movies, History, humor, Movies, Mystery, photography, politics, Romance | 2 Comments

Still Lives: “Kärlekens Krigare” (2009)

     “Kärlekens Krigare”  (2009)

    Simon Staho’s “Kärlekens Krigare” ( “Warriors of Love”) is an interesting  use of the limited regressive tools of filmmaking resulting by ignoring just over a century’s worth of accumulated advances in style and technological shortcutting whichwarriorsofloveOS have come to form the modern grammar of cinema.

    At times the film often seems in conscious defiance of the very term “motion picture” to predate all but the most elemental of building blocks of the cinema with its stubborn use of a fixed lens on a still subject; often a character stiffly posed to stare directly through the fourth wall and, except for minute facial muscular variations, remaining frozen in time as if enslaved by the extended exposure that was a prerequisite in the early photographic process. Rather than the continuous stimulus overload of a progressive visual narrative, in which the mind is captive to the onrush of often inconsequential but distracting information, Staho’s film moves at an appreciably measured pace allowing a full absorption and contemplation of the contents and ramifications of every scene and every hesitant utterance. With his method of filming “Kärlekens Kigare”, Staho not only bridges the gap between the aesthetics of still photography and the motion picture which accordingly alters the way in which the viewer perceives the material. The audience is encouraged to deeply observe with the intellect and not just to merely see.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:  https://chandlerswainreviews,

Posted in art house cinema, movie reviews, Movies, photography, Reviews, Romance, Swedish cinema, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Bump in the Night: “Dracula Sucks” (1978)

NOT A CHILD’S BEDTIME STORY: Lovely Mina (Annette Haven) breathlessly recounts an episode of inappropriate nocturnal visitation in Phillip Marshak’s editorially inept “Dracula Sucks”.

           “Dracula Sucks”  (1978)

    If a similar exercise in post-“Blazing Saddles” era genre deconstruction by way of by way of a borscht belt savaging of genre tropes were to be inferred by as suggestively flippant a title as “Dracula Sucks”, imagine the surprise of unwary patrons who insteaddraculasucksOS of being treated to a comic edition of the usual blood and bosoms rendering of vampirism in the best Hammer tradition, encounter this sexually explicit version of Bram Stoker’s popular nocturnal boudoir crasher.

    However, if one were to infer that the introduction of a  more liberal level of carnality indicates an equal elevation of eroticism, “Dracula Sucks” is bound to disappoint for the same reason it offers tepid contribution to the already oversaturated bloodline of Transylvanian-based filmic progeny. The film borrows so liberally from the preceding self-replicating recreations of cinematic rather than the literary incarnation of the story that, at times, it seems as if its ultimate purpose is to act as a “Greatest Hits” tourist primer to every identifiable trope readily on hand for use in stale duplication by the unimaginative filmmaker. Similarly, rather than interpolating the explicit sexuality as a means to derive heretofore unexplored erotic shadings in the assaults on Victorian psychosexual propriety, the filmmakers are satisfied with a generic offering of sex scenes designed neither to illuminate character nor to advance the plot but simply act as regularly scheduled interruptions meant to distract from the alarmingly meager narrative. 

     Count Dracula (Jamie Gillis) and his two “brides” take up residence at the dilapidated Carfax Abbey, adjacent to Dr. Seward’s sanitarium. After a cursory happy hour introduction to all of the main characters, the Transylvanian begins a reign of terror that encompasses the staff, many of their loved ones and even some of the patients. The most prominent of the latter is Renfield (Richard Bulik) who, coincidentally, has succumbed to episodes of delusion following the disappearance of his father on a business rip to the Carpathian Mountains. Renfield is ceremonially enslaved by Dracula for no discernible reason for despite the madman’ assertions that he is essential to the success of the vampire’s activities, he actually contributes little to the proceedings save to provide a running source of irritation with his ceaseless impersonation of Dwight Frye’s sinister guttural laugh.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Annette Haven, books, erotica, horror, Movies, Porno Chic, Romance, vampires, women, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Chandler’s Trailers: “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” (2001)

“The Curse of the Jade Scorpion”  (2001)  A veteran insurance investigator and a newly installed company efficiency expert trade barbs while they are unwittingly involved, due to post-hypnotic suggestions, in the very jewel robberies they themselves are investigating. With its richly textured palette of deep browns and burnished golds by Zhao Fei and impeccable production design by Santo Loquasto, Woody Allen’s “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” is an aesthetic delight; the cinematographic love child of Gordon Willis and Natalie Kalmus. Unfortunately, the film is a talkie and as such the viewer cannot be sustained by a rich diet of visuals alone, but must be provided adequate textual sustenance, and to that end, the film’s scenario is an anemic affair in both wit and narrative invention. Conceptually, this is one of Allen’s most traditionally structured storylines as his comedies have a tendency to meander within a basic thematic premise while lacking the full development demanded of linear plot construction. However, in attempting a solid structural integrity of a Hawks-like farce, Allen’s fixation on perpetuating his own neurotic persona (despite the fact that it ill-suits the character he is playing) tends to stall the momentum of a plot desperate for sharp witted performances and lightning quick delivery. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in comedy, crime, Helen Hunt, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Romance, Woody Allen, writing | 1 Comment

Howl: “La lupa mannara” (1976)


LES YEUX SONT LE MIROIR DE L’AME: For a film to effectively convey an internalized descent into a personal hell is not an easy task. How fortunate for director Rino Di Silvestro that he needed to look no further than the haunted gaze of Annik Borel in her discomforting portrayal of a rape victim entombed in psychotic delusions for his otherwise tastelessly gratuitous “La luna mannara”.

  “La lupa mannara”  (1976)

     Lycanthropy becomes the subject of pathology rather than mythology in Rino Di Silvestro’s “La lupa mannara” (“Werewolf Woman”), a film that features an unsettling performance by Annik Borel as Daniela Neseri, a victim of teen rape who enters into adulthood with deep psychological scarring indelibly reinforced by the discovery of a horrid familial legend concerning an physically identical antecedent unceremoniously burned alive for being a murderous werewolf.

     If the film appears to begin as a standard, if uncommonly anatomically revealing horror film, these opening indulgences in the supernatural are merely the vehicle by which Daniela’s psychic obsessions are made manifest first as nightmares and later, as her grip on reality continues to erode, as delusional route markers on her path to total madness;  in the hallucinatory form of a her ancestral doppelgänger (also played by Borel, albeit with spotty hirsute applications and dreadful Silly Putty make-up).   

     Sneaking a peek at her visiting sister Elena (Dagmar Lassander) and her husband  carnally engaged, Daniela, inspired by delusions of lunar influence which acts to conflate her primal sexual urges and uncontrollable violent impulses, savagely murders her brother-in-law, lalupa243.jpgthough his wounds are improbably attributed to an accidental fall and dog bites. Unsuspected of the crime, Daniela’s psychiatric state is such that she is is placed in a mental hospital administered by the same doctor who confided to Daniels’s father, Count Neseri (Tino Carraro) with an inordinate  amount of nonsensical psychobabble meant to explain the rudimentary basis for all that is occurring in Daniela’s mind, though the miasma of oral diagnostic clutter affords as much impractical scientific value as that communicated on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Daniela escapes, but not before being groped by and then killing the traditional resident nymphomaniac (consistent with the easy bake recipes of Italian horror films, mental hospitalslalupamannara44 are depicted as the most laxly managed institutions imaginable), then engaging in a bloody crime spree, critically injuring a doctor and slaying both a would-be rapist (this seems to be an alarming trend among the Italian male as depicted in this film) and an innocent farm girl who has just enjoyed a literal roll in the hay. Meanwhile, enter plodding Police Inspector Modica (Frederick Stafford, perfecting something one might identify as stolidly amused gravitas) who regularly updates the body count in an efficient but inconsequential manner which virtually guarantees he’ll always be ineffectively three steps behind the action.

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in crime, erotica, giallo, horror, Italian cinema, Movies, psychiatry, women, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Down and Dirty Duck” (1974)

“Down and Dirty Duck”  (1974)  Buoyed by the financial success of Ralph Bakshi’s X-rated animated feature “Fritz the Cat”, several attempts were made to legitimize a solid commercial market for adult oriented animated features. Though certainly not as technically proficient as Bakshi’s film, Charles Swenson’s “Down and Dirty Duck” shows a far more imaginative use of animation in the surreal fluidity of its initial stream of consciousness salvo in which form is subject to corporeal transcience in the support of exaggerated absurdist humor. Enter a Feifferesque insurance adjuster (smartly portrayed without the slightest hint of tint in a vibrantly colored character universe) Willard Isenbaum; his Walter Mitty-ish fantasy life seeming to be stuck on the repeat button of paraphilia, transmogrifying reality into an imagined kaleidoscopic pageant of breasts, phalli and vulvae.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in animation, cartoons, comedy, humor, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, writing | 1 Comment

If Only They Were This Good at Brexit

NEWS FLASH FROM ENGLAND: In an atmosphere of revelry rivaling that of both VE Day and anytime Kenneth Branagh leaves the country, the people of Beetley are celebrating the success of local Ollie owner and the only resident of the town to have personally flashed a rude gesture at Benjamin Disraeli, Grouchy Pete. in his landmark victory in cracking the Enigma Code that is the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz.

Brexit Stalls as Parliament Investigates Suspicious Security Breach From Beetley; Dog Will Testify

In a move that has stunned NATO and forced an admission from French President Emmanuel Macron that Parisians are indeed “annoying”, an ancient Beetley native known only by the alias Pete (which in the Welsh dialect means either “angry Rainman” or “Ollie’s burden” depending on how many whiskey shots you have consumed), has solved what has been called by prominent scholars at the ivy covered institution of academic shell games, Smarterin U., the modern day version of the Gordian Knot, by correctly identifying all twenty five films in the November 2019 edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz. “Pete” (pictured, right) responded in classic style by calling for insurrection against those who control the weather and a large moose who he claims has been stalking his home during the evening. Locals are thrilled with the sudden notoriety, though when pressed to convey good tidings toward the now-famous curmudgeon neighbor, still wish for a well placed sinkhole.

Instructions to the winner:  to receive your well deserved CSR Culture shock Award, you may either (in a democracy, we give you a choice) download it by using the following link:    or by simply downloading the actual award and transferring it to your site. Interlopers and wannabe winners may be reminded that the award is registered and copyrighted (except in China where every intellectual property is fair game), and if found on an undeserving site, we will pursue and prosecute to the fullest extent of our prosecutorial energies (which means you’re in no danger). Congrats to Pete and to all a good night.

Posted in Movies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Going to the Chapel: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Nov. 2019 Edition, Vol. XXXI

SPARE THE SACRED DAGGER, SPOIL THE CHILD: If Jesus was gracious enough to die for our sins, the least you can expect of the modern rotten brat sons of soulless computer generation hillbillies (except for those in Vermont, who manage to be hillbillies without possessing any of the advanced degrees the metropolitan sophisticates have in the fine art of how-to-lose-your-identity-on-the-internet-by-squandering-all-of-your-privacy-for-a-chance-to-win-a-subscription-to-Mother-Earth-News-by-revealing-your-personal-information-to-a-teen-hacker-from-Macedonia) is to apologize for spitting grape juice on your freshly laundered albino white toy poodle.

Going to the Chapel:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Nov. 2019 Edition, Vol. XXXI

    This month’s offering comes with the dual purpose of pointing out the intellectual deficiencies of our readers (glad to do it) and to seek sanctuary from the incessant clutter of Big Indeterminate Gender Sibling political finger wagging aimed at my climatically fatal carbon footprint brought on by my insensitive toasting an English Muffin for breakfast. (Damn that Neville Chamberlain for his influential incursion on American eating habits!),  How was I to know that the mere act of heating something on which I might smear the red raspberry hemlock marmalade received as a gift from by a grateful CSR staff immediately following their annual performance reviews and subsequent denial of pay raises, might suddenly initiate a staggering chain of events involving a chapelgifCongressional call to arms (though only after an FBI background check and seven day waiting period) that has brought to fruition something called the Greenback New Deal in which the nation would defer from an the economy dependent on oil, coal, beef and pleasure into a more environmentally responsible society based solely on hamster wheels, indentured servant drawn rickshaws, fiddleheads and a mass desire for suicide as an alternative to enduring the publication of yet another fabulist “memoir” by that eminent and perpetual sore loser Hillary Clinton (a political version of direct-to-video trash if ever there were one)? Which brings us to this month’s edition of America’s most theologically obtuse brain teaser the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you this and every month by the distributors of SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy. In this edition we celebrate that time honored place offering sanctuary without the inconvenience of combative, smelly junkie homeless, fascist Antifa thugs and entitled illegal aliens: the church and its many manifestations in the cinema; be it an ever so humble chapel or a massive cathedral, the church has existed in film as a place of solace, comfort and the occasional fraternal hijinks. The following twenty five images represent activities taking place within church walls within the wall of the equally humble (with good reason) movie theatre (there’s that Brit influence again). Your task is to identify all twenty five films, and not merely to show off your mental prowess (yeah, right), but to obtain a shiny new copy of the CSR Culture Shock Award, which will be awarded to the first reader capable of solving this visual bit o’ toffee, Guv’Nah (what?). Good luck.

01)chapel102) 03)04)05)06)07)08)chapel2909)10)11) 12)13)14)15)16)17)18)19)20)chapel2821)22)23)24)25)

Posted in Alfred Hitchcock, animation, art house cinema, books, British films, History, humor, Movies, politics, religion, writing | 4 Comments

Chandler’s Trailers: “Don’t Breathe” (2016)

dontbreathe“Don’t Breathe”  (2016)  Yet another example of Skinner Box cinema, presenting an unremarkable event, in this instance a case of home invasion by a trio of thrill seekers, which spirals into a nightmare intended precisely for the audience to enjoy the sensation of compassionless cattle prodding. “Don’t Breathe” heightens the usual stalk-and-slay formula by presenting antagonists who are equally reprehensible and thus laying no foundation for empathetic association, with the resulting narrative unfolding as an endurance test in that the only emotion left for the audience to experience is a hunger for the prolonging of suffering. The viewer is encouraged to see through the eyes of monsters; it’s what the film is specifically designed to do.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in crime, horror, Movies, Reviews, writing | 2 Comments

Curiouser and Curiouser: “The Curious Female” (1970)

         “The Curious Female”    (1970)

    One might be sympathetic to the exploitation filmmaker who deems that gratuitous sex and nudity alone is insufficient to realize any but the most base of creative intentions and certainly sincere creative ambition is never something to sneeze at in the cinema, but Paul Rapp’s “The Curious Female” is so overstuffed with unnecessary characters and thready plotting that it’s a certainty that little or nothing will emerge from the resultant miasma that will make an impression. Or sense.

     Ostensibly a SF vehicle, this too is a confused feint, as these elements are only the cosmetic trappings of the wraparound story which takes place in yet another version of a distant dystopian future, though the nature of the film’s computer controlled society makes so little sense that the details explained by the opening narration are entirely contradicted in the first the minutes of the narrative and find further refutation in the featured “underground” film (a supposed cultural remnant from 1969 entitled “The Three Virgins”, which also accounts for the bulk of the running time of “The Curious Female”, got that?) by a clandestine orgiastic conclave of polyamorous celebrants whose subversive defiance of the totalitarian state is to watch morally enlightened sexploitation films (an oxymoron if ever there were one). While both the film and the film within the film (got that?) occasionally assert an intended sense of humor (though repeatedly extinguished with truly ugly episodes of attempted rape and later marital rape), there is never a noticeable awareness of the irony present in which a State edict which instructs its citizens to  sleep with everyone you want and as often as possible is defied by people whose discontent is expressed by sleeping around with everyone you want and as often as possible.

 To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in erotica, Film Reviews, grindhouse, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, science fiction, sex, Sex in Cinema, women | Tagged | 2 Comments

Look What They Done to My War, Ma: “F.T.A.” (1972)

        “F.T.A.”  (1972)

     In Michael Wadleigh’s celebrated 1970 documentary “Woodstock”, the myth of the purity of Sixties radicalism takes a sharp stick in the eye when the cumulative evidence reveals that rather than the three day music festival energizing the youth culture with an enlightened revolutionary fervor centered on opposition to the Vietnam War, the bulk of the attendees’ attention seemed reprioritized to the more immediately rewarding search for appropriately modest places to evacuate their bladders. Meanwhile, Country Joe McDonald scolds the largely somnolent audience to lift themselves from their torpor and participate in an antiwar activity as undemanding a demonstration of political solidarity as possible-  a sing-along  -with the noncommittal response seeming to be a result of cognitive benumbing through chemistry or simply distracted adolescence; neither of which is particularly characteristic of action born of deep rooted radical activism  His is a rather dispirited call to revolutionary defiance that is met with glazed eyes and mud caked somnambulism.

    A different form of activist dishonesty is on display in Francine Parker’s “F.T.A.”, a film documenting a satiric vaudeville troupe on what was called the Free The Army tour, a type of anti-USO show; not designed to provide entertainment to the troops as much as the indoctrination of additional disharmony among the ranks of the already situationally disgruntled. Armed with equalFTA2 parts sophomoric glibness and celebrity vanity, the skits comprising the revue aim low and still miss the mark, unassisted by the unrelenting (and unmerited) smugness projected by Donald Sutherland and the faux-fawning Kewpie Doll persona affected by Jane Fonda as a substitution for ability in sketch comedy, though in her defense there is little the most able of comic talents could have done with the gratingly unfunny material (though to weaken her alibi, both she and Sutherland are accused, along with seven other abettors, of the writing). It plays like a suggestion for a show passed around the living room during a cocktail party with each each contribution seeming more hilarious as the passed bottle empties.

    To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Documentaries, Jane Fonda, movie reviews, Movies, music, politics, Vietnam, writing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cold as Ice: “The Frozen Dead” (1966)


WILL SOMEONE PLEASE PASS THE STRUDEL?: Life is replete with all manner of awkward mobility issues especially when one is reduced to a severed head, as discovered by a particularly vexed young lady in the Herbert J. Leder’s mad-Nazi-science-on-the-loose picture, “The Frozen Dead”.

                 “The Frozen Dead”  (1966)

     If one were take Hollywood’s version of history at face value, Germany’s defeat in World War II had little to do with the strangulation of resources and manpower by an encircling Allied Army or the depletion of men and arms stalemated on the Russian Front, but in the High Command’s sudden abandonment of a traditional war effort in favor of a diverse program of Lionel Atwill-inspired mad scientist schemes designed to resurrect the Reich decades in the future and achieve world dominance through the use of chemistry sets and noisy Tesla coils.

    “The Frozen Dead” perpetuates this loopy tradition in which nonsense science-based Nazi wish fulfillment is given a dedicated champion in the form of Dana Andrews whose Dr. Norberg, though regarded by his sore loser Aryan peers as the Clarence Birdseye of quick frozen Hitlerian fanatics, is experiencing frustration in his inability to initiate a successful defrosting process which doesn’t leave his subjects either dead or nightmarishly crippled by becoming mentally frozen at a specific memory point in time, which they mechanically replay ad infinitum; thus, one unceasingly combs his hair, while another childishly weeps over a remembered loss, while yet another endlessly bounces an invisible rubber ball. Dr. Norberg’s similarly revived and mentally impeded brother (played by Edward Fox) is consumed violence, or so we’re told, although he appears the calmest  of the experiment’s failed subjects for much of the film. However, it is Norberg’s assistant Karl Essen (Alan Tilvern) who clumsily sets off a chain of events which will ultimately result in the death and experimental decapitation of Elsa (Kathleen Breck), a friend of  Norberg’s niece, Jean (Anna Palk).

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in Drive-In Movies, horror, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, science fiction, women, World War II, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Undercovers: “The Ganja Express” (1978)

      “The Ganja Express”  (1978)

    Three men pretending to be actors play at being Federal agents who manage to confuse the most fundamental of plans: that is to say they are planning to pursue a drug smuggling ring. which, it turns out, is run by a sleazy nightclub owner. This same illicit entrepreneur has a confederate  within the same investigative agency, all of which is openly revealed immediately in the film, leaving little opportunity for the casual accumulation of details-  the thing regular patrons of movies refer to as a plot  -to occur in the film. With little dedication to the narrative form, the filmmakers compensate for the vaporous nature of their scenario by including a large number of unrelated sexual encounters including one truly bizarre toga party trapeze consummation and a soberly performed fireside lesbian tryst made unintentionally hilarious by presence of the most clamorous crackling fireplace inferno ever committed to film. “The French Connection” this ain’t.

   To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in crime, erotica, grindhouse, Movies, Porno Chic, sex, Sex in Cinema, writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Mud: “X the Unknown” (1956)

FIDDLING WHILE SCOTLAND BURNS: Scientist Dr. Adam Royston (Dean Jagger) distracts Britain’s first defense against an atomic menace with fanciful theories while a mysterious entity is allowed to roam unchecked and ravage the countryside in “X the Unknown”.  

          “X the Unknown”  (1956)

     For those interested in genre filmmaking, it is important to remember that in monster movies the world seems to be populated by citizens paralyzed with fright so intense it inevitably leads to a hideous demise rather than their simply turning about and fleeing to safety. Nothing benefits a monster’s predilection  toward mayhem (nor an unimaginative script) like obligingly stupid humans.

    During a routine military radiation detection training exercise, a mysterious fissure opens resulting in both death and injury by way of radiation burns. Atomic research scientist Dr. Adam Royston (Dean Jagger, who makes for a rather dull protagonist with an emotionally disengaged performance) is summoned to assist in investigating, interrupting his secretive experiments which, coincidentally, will later figure significantly in dealing with the menace.

    For the better part of “X the Unknown”, director Leslie Norman refrains from any view of the amorphous creature from the Earth’s core which has inconveniently emerged through a surface fissure and is stalking the Scottish countryside in search of radioactive refreshment. This well considered reticence benefits the film immensely as long as the focus of the story is on building mystery, which the director and his able cinematographer  Gerald Gibbs handle with a sober, unshowy hand, thought one of their more atmospherically staged sequences-  a terrified boy walking through a woodland pregnant with initially imagined danger  -is sabotaged by the furious scoring of the usually reliable James Bernard; a musical cue so  breathlessly hyperactive it suggests the composer may have been temporarily confused that his assignment was to underscore a “Carry On” parody.

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in British films, Drive-In Movies, Hammer films, horror, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, science fiction, writing | Tagged | 1 Comment

“That’s Where the Money Is”: Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2019 Edition, Vol. 2%


WHERE’S THE NIGHT DEPOSIT SLOT?: If you open an account at Fort Knox, do you receive a promotional toaster? Just one of the many questions you’ll never get an answer to in this month’s edition of the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz.

“That’s Where the Money Is”:  Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, Oct. 2019 Edition, Vol. 2%

Consistent with our desire to occasionally present what might be leniently considered a public service in order to maintain a favorable tax status and to fool WordPress into thinking this site is anything but an obvious candidate for immediate expulsion for the good of society at large (unless, of course, we name names-  in essence become a whistle blower  -which we can assure all guilty parties we would never do, not due any inherent code of honor, but merely due to the fact that we don’t care enough to pay attention and notice who you are anyway), we present this very special (not really, although souvenir programs are available for purchase in the lobby) edition of America’s favorite monthly bipartisan cerebral slugfest, the Classic Film Images Photo Quiz, brought to you by those fine folks who bring you SKITTLES, America’s favorite breakfast candy which has also been recommended by 3 out of 4 doctors as a safe and effective substitution for vaping. In this edition, we look at the logic of Willie Sutton’s comment as to why he robs banks and its application in the world of cinema. The following twenty five images reflect Hollywood’s hearty obsession with financial success without the bothersome need for legitimate effort and remuneration through that time honored tradition of bank robbery. (This same formula might also apply in the film depiction of lawyers and politicians, but even CSR has some standards not to endorse repulsive materials.) While CSR certainly doesn’t endorse the premature withdrawal of a bank account you’ve yet to open, we always enjoy indulging in exposing the industry of hypocrite moral watchdogs wallowing in the production of material which promotes antisocial behavior (which, ironically- signals the need for more-  dare we say it?  -lawyers and politicians). ‘Tis a shifty business, but CSR is on top of it. In the meantime, your task, should you decide to accept it, is to correctly identify all twenty five films. The first to do so will receive the CSR Culture Shock Award, a trophy the equal of the Nobel Prize though having the advantage of the recipient not having to be breathed on by those pesky Swedes. Good luck.



Posted in art house cinema, books, Boston, British films, Canada, crime, film noir, Movies, Mystery, photography, westerns, writing | Tagged | 5 Comments

Domesticated On Arrival: “Devils of Darkness” (1965)

WHAT’S A NICE GIRL LIKE YOU DOING IN A COFFIN LIKE THIS?: Victim of an unfortunate supernatural interruption of her nuptials, lovely Gypsy girl Tania (Carole Gray) enjoys a brief respite before her resurrection into an eternity of undead mischief in “Devils of Darkness”

      “Devils of Darkness” (1965)

    Lance Comfort’s “Devils of Darkness” is a strange amalgam of vampirism and Satanic cult worshipping, both staples of post-Hammer British horror films, though here combined in an awkward brew which appears to regard the combining of disparate genre elements as an evolutionary step rather than an attempt to disguise tropes which have become fatigued through overuse.

    This colorful production has all of the earmarks of Hammer productions which have done much to advance the odd suggestion that contemporary citizens of England are perpetually engaged in a constant struggle against the pernicious influence of continental European nations who have somehow become locked in the traditions of sixteenth century ritual barbarism. 

To read the complete review, click the following link to:

Posted in British films, Drive-In Movies, Hammer films, horror, movie reviews, Movies, vampires, writing | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The Spy Who Confused Me: “Superseven chiama Cairo” (1965)



BATHING, BUBBLES, TOIL AND TROUBLES: Just how would a spy rushing to save the Free World operate efficiently without a beauty (in this case, the delectable Rosalba Neri) emerging from a bath? Fortunately, in Umberto Lenzi’s James Bond knock-off “Superseven chiama Cairo” such an unthinkable scenario is ignored in the interest of the furtherance of presenting nonsense as popular escapist entertainment.

    “Superseven chiama Cairo”  (1965)

    If imitation were genuinely the sincerest form of flattery, then Ian Fleming’s most popular creation would have merited the author the Nobel Prize for Literature. As it stands, what is entertaining in an original incarnation tends to lose its vitality through the lack of necessity of bringing the fullest creative juices to bear when the task is merely slavish reproduction. As a paper tracing of Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe might have a shadowy resemblance to the original but without the finished artistry of the oil on canvas, so too does this imitation James Bond adventure aspire to anything more than a counterfeit reminder of the genuine article.

   Umberto Lenzi’s  “Superseven chiama Cairo”, which introduces his secret agent Martin Stevens, aka Superseven, finds its obvious inspiration in the commercial success of the 007 series, and to a point it is faithful in including those elements which are easily replicated without the necessary style or craftsmanship to which the Bond franchise, up to that point, had become recognized: the global location hopping to picturesque backdrops; the constant supply of beddable shapely women, at least one of whom is an agent working for the forces of wrongdoing; and an archvillian whose modus operandi is to openly blab his plans to the hero while failing to dispatch him, necessitating a prolonged series of chases, recaptures and incidents of increasingly absurd endangerment. 

  To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in books, crime, espionage, Eurospy movies, Italian cinema, Movies, Mystery, Romance, Rosalba Neri, writing | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Paying for Time: “Agony of Love” (1966)

WHATEVER TURNS YOU ON: In response to the plea of housewife turned prostitute Barbara Thompson (Pat Barrington) to “Do it. Do it. Hurt Me. Dirty Me”, a rumpled client brings her to climax with the unlikely technique of appearing to fall asleep mid-coitus in William Rotsler’s “Agony of Love”.

          “Agony of Love”  (1966)

  Think “Klute” without the nonsense murder plot or “Belle de jour” without the surrealist subtext and both made without a hint of artistry and you will probably see much that is recognizable in William Rotsler’s “Agony of Love”, the portrait of a prostitute in crisis which is also the story of a housewife who is a prostitute in crisis.

    Stuck in a loveless marriage, Barbara Thompson (Pat Barrington) finds solace in keeping a separate apartment in which she becomes a growing concern in the sex trade, luring clients there for an afternoon of mattress frolics in exchange for a fistful of cash. But rather than acting as a remedy for her feelings of emotional alienation, her activities  result only in silly amateurishly filmed dream sequences and subsequent trips to the local psychiatrist whose manner of analysis suggests a surrender to professional mockery. Barbara’s therapy sessions provide sparse insight with a long, long road traveled to arrive at such revelations as she is searching for love (One can’t help but suspect a great deal of bill padding is afoot.) nor does the film provide satisfying dramatic closure (if that is what one seeks in such a picture) with a nasty concluding twist that is so predictable and telegraphed so far ahead that surely the only people in the theater surprised at the developments would be be the characters onscreen (though it does explain the unconventional but promising noirish opening sequence to which the film elliptically returns, but with diminished results).

To read the complete review, click the following link to:


Posted in erotica, grindhouse, Movies, psychiatry, sex, Sex in Cinema, women | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments