What was the last film you watched?

Hell O'Drama

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I need to watch an episode of the original series to see how it compares. I've seen the Bless This House, Man About The House, Steptoe and Son films and all are inferior to the TV series so I thought I was on pretty safe ground suggesting that the same would be true for Father Dear Father.

Yes, I'd say that's true. I'm not familar with Steptoe (TV or film, though I'm planning to change that soon), but you're certainly right about the others (though I think they have a certain charm).


However, the first On The Buses film was quite good.

Again, I'm not too au fait with On The Buses on big or small screen, though I've seen bits and pieces of the series and some of at least one of the films (I specifically remember a safari park scene with a big cat wandering onto the bus). I have heard others say this about the films though.



I hadn't realised you previously commented on the film.

Oh, it was over in the sitcom thread. I watched the film after watching the entire series which probably didn't help as it reinforces the kind of karaoke/greatest hits thing that sitcom film spinoffs usually have.



You are correct about the omnipresence of Richard O'Sullivan on TV during that era.

He's one of the reasons why my favourite episode of Whodunnit? is my favourite (along with another panellist who I know you're not a huge fan of):

I especially love his reaction to Jan Harvey's ad libbed "taty oggy" recipe at around 32 mins (this was an episode in which the cast had been poisoned and had all keeled over one by one as they were questioned by the panel). He seems like he enjoys a bit of a giggle.
 

Angela's Cauldron

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Yes, I'd say that's true. I'm not familar with Steptoe (TV or film, though I'm planning to change that soon), but you're certainly right about the others (though I think they have a certain charm).
I saw the Steptoe film long before the TV series. Again I was too young or not born when the TV series was originally broadcast but I caught a few episodes on a re-run, I think on BBC4 quite a few years ago now. In the TV series all the action took place in the one house and almost every scene was with just the 2 lead characters and you got a better sense of why they annoyed each other. In the film, they opened it up more and the claustrophobic tension was gone which was a key element in their father-son relationship.

Again, I'm not too au fait with On The Buses on big or small screen, though I've seen bits and pieces of the series and some of at least one of the films (I specifically remember a safari park scene with a big cat wandering onto the bus). I have heard others say this about the films though.
That was Holiday On The Buses, the second film, which wasn't anywhere as good. The first On The Buses film worked quite well although it has been a long time since I last saw it so my opinion might be different if I watched it now.

He's one of the reasons why my favourite episode of Whodunnit? is my favourite (along with another panellist who I know you're not a huge fan of):
Actually, I quite like Honor Blackman, I just hated her performance in Dagger of The Mind. Henry Caddow on the end of the panel comes across as an irritating know-all.

I love that episode of Whodunnit too, I remember when you reviewed it. When Michael Ward's character answered Richard O'Sullivan's question, he came out of character and answered it as Michael Ward which was hilarious. I do vaguely remember him in Crossroads.
 
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Scream Queen Sarah

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It certainly is a very promising poster.




Ha ha. Yes indeed.




Well, in this film he was Walker: the toothless old handyman in the filthy vest who keeps everything "spick 'n' span".


Walker also had a bit of an attitude with the lady of the house who employs him:









Oh, that's a shame. I watched it on Prime if that's any help.


On the plus side I will add that The Chauffeur is one of the creepiest characters on film. He doesn't even say anything, and he's all the more chilling for it:
This actor is in Return from Witch Mountain with Bette Davis.

He plays the character of Sickle, also hideously creepy!!
 

Hell O'Drama

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In the TV series all the action took place in the one house and almost every scene was with just the 2 lead characters and you got a better sense of why they annoyed each other. In the film, they opened it up more and the claustrophobic tension was gone which was a key element in their father-son relationship.

Yes, I can understand that would change the tone quite a lot. Sometimes a bigger budget and more expansive scope can really go against a translation like this.




That was Holiday On The Buses, the second film, which wasn't anywhere as good.

Thanks. That rings a vague bell now you've said it. I seem to remember it being shown at Christmastime so I probably had other stuff on my mind which was how I only saw a little bit of it.



The first On The Buses film worked quite well although it has been a long time since I last saw it so my opinion might be different if I watched it now.

I'm still annoyed at myself for not snapping up the "Omnibus" edition of the series and films when they were widely available on DVD. But I do hope to watch the series and films in full at some point.


Actually, I quite like Honor Blackman, I just hated her performance in Dagger of The Mind.

That kind of hamminess seems perfectly pitched for Whodunnit? though.



Henry Caddow on the end of the panel comes across as an irritating know-all.

Do you know, I'd barely even noticed him. I'll have to keep an eye out next time I'm watching.



I love that episode of Whodunnit too, I remember when you reviewed it.

It's funny how it became such an instant winner with me whereas I've forgotten most of the others.



When Michael Ward's character answered Richard O'Sullivan's question, he came out of character and answered it as Michael Ward which was hilarious. I do vaguely remember him in Crossroads.

That's really funny. Michael cracked me up in that scene when he went on to collapse, easing himself gently to the ground by holding onto the furniture while Jon Pertwee cracked "easy does it" and everyone fell about laughing.



This actor is in Return from Witch Mountain with Bette Davis.

He plays the character of Sickle, also hideously creepy!!

Oh, well-spotted Sarah. :gotcha:
 

Hell O'Drama

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Psycho III (1986)



I didn't like Psycho III though.​

I can remember nothing about Psycho III,



Well, I went into this rewatch with low expectations, which paid off well, I think, as I found it an OK film.

In some ways it was closer to the source material than the first sequel, hitting many of the same notes, but it was also arguably a little too close at times. As in the original, we saw the female lead's "original sin" that led her to run away and become befriended by Norman, which was all fine. But I was also intrigued by the choice to pay deliberate homage to the original through not only dialogue ("We all go a little mad sometimes"; "Oh God, Mother. Blood! Blood", etc) but also direction and framing, such as a shot of Norman shot from below with a stuffed owl behind him, or his physical reaction upon discovering a dead body in a cabin. In some ways it's a really nice touch, and I was reminded of what Halloween 2018 did with its little homages to the various sequels. Though Psycho III, however, wasn't too subtle in most of its meta references, which at times made some of these moments feel a little like film karaoke.

There was some nice cinematography in the film (directed by Anthony Perkins himself). This was no doubt helped by some nice scenery, such as the desert shots near the beginning of the film, though a lot of the film takes place on the Universal backlot Bates Motel set. And often at night. Which means there's little to be done. Shots of Emma Spool's corpse were effective - and genuinely creepy - when the face was in darkness, but once the "more is more" philosophy kicked in and the mummified corpse was shown in all its artifice it lost its power.

The "more is more" philosophy also applies somewhat to the film's nudity, with prolonged titty shots. And to the violence and its aftermath. This very Eighties lack of nuance did little for the film's cause.

Speaking of Eightiesness, I very much disliked Carter Burwell's electronic score.

I did appreciate a sense of closure at the film's end which feels like an appropriate ending for Norman's story and for the series.

 

Angela's Cauldron

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Well, I went into this rewatch with low expectations, which paid off well, I think, as I found it an OK film.
You seemed to like it a lot more than I did. It's been a long time since I watched it (about a third of a century!) so I don't remember the film in detail but I do remember thinking Psycho II was an unnecessary sequel and it exceeded my expectations so I had high hopes for Pschyo III and it fell short. I recall being disappointed that it moved on from being a psychological thriller to being more of a slasher movie and there was a lot more gore in this film than its predecessors. There was also more nudity than I expected and I was far more prudish when I was young but that wouldn't bother me so much today. Maybe I would like the film more if I watched it now.
 

Hell O'Drama

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You seemed to like it a lot more than I did. It's been a long time since I watched it (about a third of a century!) so I don't remember the film in detail but I do remember thinking Psycho II was an unnecessary sequel and it exceeded my expectations so I had high hopes for Pschyo III and it fell short.

I think your recent comment about not enjoying it really helped, because I went in expecting it to be terrible, so it was a bonus that I didn't feel it was. I'm sure if I'd watched with high hopes as you did I'd have been very disappointed.



I recall being disappointed that it moved on from being a psychological thriller to being more of a slasher movie and there was a lot more gore in this film than its predecessors. There was also more nudity than I expected and I was far more prudish when I was young but that wouldn't bother me so much today.

Yes, I can't disagree with any of those points. It would be a better film if they'd toned down the explicit gore and nudity and spent a little more time on character.

I do feel it had more depth than your average slasher flick, but the moments of violence and dead bodies watered it down into feeling cheaper than it could have done.
 

Angela's Cauldron

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I think your recent comment about not enjoying it really helped, because I went in expecting it to be terrible, so it was a bonus that I didn't feel it was. I'm sure if I'd watched with high hopes as you did I'd have been very disappointed.





Yes, I can't disagree with any of those points. It would be a better film if they'd toned down the explicit gore and nudity and spent a little more time on character.

I do feel it had more depth than your average slasher flick, but the moments of violence and dead bodies watered it down into feeling cheaper than it could have done.
Do you plan to watch Psycho IV? I liked that film even less than Psycho III.
 
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Hell O'Drama

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Do you plan to watch Psycho IV? I liked that film even less than Psycho III.

Ooh - good question. I really disliked it when I last watched. But I'm also a completist and the disc is sitting there in the same set as the other three so I feel almost obliged.
 

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Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990 TV Movie)



Going in with low expectations I found enough to like about this to make it an overall enjoyable watch. Every yang, however, comes with a yin.

The first thing to grab me was the score. I like that we've lost the electronic Eightiesness and returned to strings. It must be said, though, that most of the music cues are re-creations of Bernard Herrmann's original score. It's certainly good to hear them in stereo and they sound very full while still authentic to the originals. Graeme Revell's (few) original cues sound really good as well, especially as the action builds in the final act. For these reasons I'd happily seek out a soundtrack on CD, even though it is the least original score of the four films.

It's great to see CCH Pounder in a fairly meaty role as the phone-in host who ends up speaking to Norman while she's interviewing his psychologist (the same one from Psycho, but now played by a different actor) . I associate her with roles of authority (she's probably best known to me for playing a judge in LA Law) and her gravitas worked well, with her character's interest in Norman's past inviting the flashbacks and leading to the realisation that Norman is about to kill again. CCH holds the film together, but it feels quite wrong that she has more presence than Anthony Perkins.

Anthony is given more screen-time than I remembered. His "present day" story had potential but feels very poorly executed. I'm not sure how I feel about loner Norman being married and about to become a father and little of what I saw really interested me. There was potential gold to be mined in Norman being tied to another mousy-but-manipulative shrew and the script indicates his wife most certainly is this. But unlike most of Norman's actual and potential victims, we barely meet her. A phone call early in the film, then she's wheeled on to meekly react to the threat. The actress didn't work for me. She seemed so bland, passive and uninteresting. There was nothing about her that feels as though would have been enough to snap Norman out of killing her and so I struggled to believe it. There is what feels like a definitive ending with Norman ecstatic to be free. But we've been here before with the ending to Psycho III and so it's more difficult to believe this time.

The flashbacks are arguably the film's "main" story. I don't quite buy Henry Thomas as a young Anthony Perkins (bear in mind that he's only eight or nine years younger than Perkins was in the original) but, at risk of sounding contradictory, he does make a good young Norman Bates if you accept him as a different reading of the character (which admittedly isn't easy in a film which also features the older Bates).

There's a similar "almost but not quite" vibe with Olivia Hussey's Norma Bates who, by the time of her death, feels much younger than what comes to mind when one thinks of the Mrs Bates character in the original film. There is an attempt to reconcile this with a line of dialogue which is appreciated (Norman says something about how she became older in his mind because of how she died and because he couldn't get the voice to sound as gentle as hers).

Of course people are interested to know the backstory, but for me it's the kind of thing best imagined, because the human mind is far more creative and frightening than any film crew and group of actors and editors. The deaths of Norma and Chet are a prime example of this. When strychnine is mentioned in the first film, it conjures up nightmarish visions. And the reality of that would be very grim indeed. As it is, both Norma and Chet get the effects almost instantly and are both dead within ten minutes and despite the vomit and expressions of pain, it feels a little underwhelming and almost dilutes the images that the original film created. Almost.

What it really comes down to is that almost anytime something is "explained" it becomes less interesting. Which is why I don't feel compelled to watch Bates Motel just yet.


 

Angela's Cauldron

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Going in with low expectations I found enough to like about this to make it an overall enjoyable watch.
Interesting that you liked this one too. Again, I only have a vague memory of it but I remember at the time thinking they were squeezing the dregs of the franchise to get the last few drops of the story out.

Which is why I don't feel compelled to watch Bates Motel just yet.
I loved Bates Motel and will re-watch it again one day.
 

Hell O'Drama

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Interesting that you liked this one too.

Yes. I was pleasantly surprised not to hate it.

Expectations were very low and you're not wrong that they were squeezing the franchise at this point. I suppose I made a few mental adjustments due to the fact that:
  1. It's a TV movie
  2. It's a third sequel
  3. I really didn't like it on my previous viewing

Mentally, I probably half viewed it as a standard slasher sequel rather than comparing it with Psycho, and that helped too. It's not a great film by any means, nor would I call it art or fall over myself to recommend it to anyone. But it's also a long way from the worst film experiences I've had.

I loved Bates Motel and will re-watch it again one day.

I'm open to watching it one day, but in general I worry about how series like Bates Motel or Hannibal would somehow foul the nest (which is admittedly slightly odd considering I've just watched all three Psycho sequels).
 

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Of course people are interested to know the backstory, but for me it's the kind of thing best imagined
Absolutely.
That's why a Blake & Alexis prequel wouldn't work for me. I prefer the "he said/she said", the lies with a little bit of truth in it.

Which is why I don't feel compelled to watch Bates Motel just yet.
I found it very Desperate Bates Motel Wives.
 

Hell O'Drama

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I prefer the "he said/she said", the lies with a little bit of truth in it.

For me, too. These things tend to have far more resonance when I'm left to weigh up the evidence and build a picture in my mind. There's nothing wrong with the oblique, and with leaving the audience to question.

Yes, many will ask for answers to those questions but, when given, the reality can never live up to the fantasy.


I found it very Desperate Bates Motel Wives.

Ooh. Intriguing.
 

Hell O'Drama

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The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997)



Despite the tweaked-to-get-attention title (the source material was called Watch That Man), there's nothing at all Hitchcockian about this. Instead it feels very much like an ersatz version of the Clouseau films or even Mr Bean (it's ironic that the same year's Bean movie would lose much of its appeal by transplanting the main character to America, while this film sees Bill Murray plopped into a Hollywood vision of London - filled with RP accents, red phone boxes, cobbled streets and Minis - with about as much success).

The premise is a promising one, with Murray's character unwittingly dragged into espionage and despatching threats through his own clumsiness, spending the entire time under the misconception that he's involved in a live theatre performance paid for by his brother. This angle got a few decent chortles from me, such as the scene where he blasts a phone to smithereens with his gun, unaware that he's packing the real thing.

But the Devil's in the detail and, while the story is decent, the execution feels rather clunky and the script unpolished. Overall it's not as funny as it promises. I also came out of this feeling weary of Bill Murray's brand of buffoonery and questioning if I even like him as an actor. At the back of my mind the whole time was that I'd rather be watching Peter Sellers.

On the plus side, Alfred Molina does his usual brilliant thing with accents. And Richard Wilson's always a delight, even with sub-par material.

 

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Scream (1996)



This used to be a favourite of mine, but I found myself falling out of love with it some years ago. With the 25th anniversary and the upcoming new film, this seemed as good a time as any to revisit it after a good few years.

The best things about the film and the series for me have been the town of Woodsboro and the warm, rich cinematography, and it still delivers on that front. The locations and properties really grabbed me this time round, and I found myself coveting each home in turn as we travelled around Woodsboro.

This time round, I realised there's a huge male/female divide between the characters. The women are sparkly and interesting and carry this film. The younger men are played very broadly as gurning clowns who can't take anything seriously, and there are are too many "adorably clueless" or comic relief types among the men. Kenny and Randy are the exceptions as the lighthearted stuff feels appropriate for them and they both steal their respective scenes.

All the same, it holds up really well, looks great and I found myself appreciating all over again what a breath of fresh air this film would have been to a category of film that had become stale and derivative.

 
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