Monday, March 26, 2012

'Over-Exposed' is a nice showcase for Cleo Moore

Over-Exposed (1956)
Starring: Cleo Moore, Raymond Greeleaf, Richard Crenna, Donald Randolph, and Isobel Elsom
Director: Lewis Seiler
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

An arrest for vagrancy ends up leading to a young woman (Moore) to discover that she has a talent for photography. She parlays that talent in to wealth and fame, trampling on supporters and friends as she climbs her way to the top. But at the pinnacle of fame, she becomes a target for the mob when she witnesses a murder.

Despite showing lots of talent, actress Cleo Moore seemed to have been treated more like a pin-up girl than an actress by studio publicists. In films where she had bit parts, such as "Women's Prison" she was all over the promotional material in varying states of undress, and in films where she was the lead, such as this one and "One Woman's Confession", sex appeal also seemed to be emphasized over anything else.

And this is rather a shame, because I think Moore had greater talent as an actress than she ever really had the opportunity to show, and I think that is exhibited best in this picture than any others I've seen her in.

Moore's character goes through several stages during this film and she gets to portray a range of emotions... always tinged with a mixture of hardness that seems born from a rough life rather than any sort of emotional or mental defects. In a couple of scenes, she is particularly effective in showing emotional pain with some rather subtle acting that manages to keep the audience's sympathy for her character as she behaves like a bitch to those who care for her. Moore deftly keeps the character on the side of seeming tragic while a lesser actress might have caused her to come off as pathetic.

Moore is supported by good performances from the rest of the cast, especially from Raymond Greenleaf as the burn-out drunk who becomes Moore's gateway to the world of photography and who rediscovers his own gift while helping to develop hers. Greenleaf's character is kindhearted and funny, and is so likable that viewers will almost despise Moore's character for not making a greater effort to keep their relationship intact later in the film.

I probably would have rating this film a 7 if not for the ending. Given it was made in the 1950s, I suppose it comes as no surprise how things turn out for Moore's character, but couldn't the screenwriters have paired her a more manly man? Richard Crenna's character spends most of the movie whining and being obnoxiously insecure (possibly even jealous) about Moore's success. Sure, he punches out a few gangsters, but it still seemed wrong that Moore should give up her career for someone like that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Scream Queen: Carrie-Anne Moss

Canadian-born Carrie-Anne Moss made the switch from modeling to acting starting with roles in horror anthology series "The Hitchhiker" and "Nightmare Cafe" and was soon a regular face either as guest-star or as recurring characters on mystery television series throughout the 1990s.

With the coming of the new millennium, Moss mostly left television acting behind--with the exception of a couple of TV movies and a recurring role on the final season of the action-comedy series "Chuck." She is best known for her role as Trinity in the sci-fi action film "The Maxtrix" and its sequels and spin-offs, but she has also appeared in several horror-tinged films, such as "Disturbia" (2007), "Suspect Zero" (2004), and "Red Planet" (2000).

Moss's latest horror project is "Silent Hill: Revelation 3D", which is currently in post-production and slated for release later this year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Milla Jovovich Quarterly:
The Case of the Missing Pants

"My pants?! I sat down, I was wearing them. I stood up, they were gone! Has anyone seen David Copperfield or Chris Angel today?!"

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Scream Queen:Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar started her acting career as a child with a recurring role on the daytime drama "All My Children" and made her transition to adult actress while starring on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Even while starring on "Buffy", Gellar maintained a busy filming and voice-acting schedule, remaining in front of the camera and microphones pretty much non-stop through her teen years and 20s, and into the present day.

Most recently, Gellar has returned to series television as the star of "Ringer", a show where she plays a woman on the run from the mob who poses as her missing twin sister... only to learn that her sister's life is no less dangerous than her own.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Scream Queen: Who's Next?

I've featured roughly 120 Scream Queens in this series. So, the question is... who do YOU think the future should bring to this space?

Who haven't I covered that you think the world needs to know about?

Monday, March 5, 2012

'Demon Kiss' is flawed but watchable

Demon Kiss (2010)
Starring: Sally Mullins, Elizabeth Di Prinzio (aka Jessica T. Perez?), Sebastian Gonzales, and Jamie Macek
Director: Dennis Devine
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A demon goes on a bloody killing spree, thinning the roster of an escort service while moving from body to body while searching for the reincarnated Mary Magdalene, the "mother of all whores." Meanwhile, a police detective (Gonzales) and the "psychoanalyst to the working hooker" (Mullins) are desperately trying to identify who the serial killer is and stop him.

"Demon Kiss" is a movie I should come down on like a ton of bricks. Its director, Dennis Devine, has helmed better movies (with "Caregiver" from 2007 springing immediately to mind); the cast is mostly community theatre-level when it comes to both acting skills and acting styles; the production was so cash-starved that the gore effects are weak and almost no effort was made to hide the fact that the same room is recycled as different locations, and the theological and historical under-pinnings of the story are so shaky that it made my old-time Humanities Major heart cry out in pain.

Despite all those negatives, however, the film held my attention... and that's saying a lot these days when I'm being pulled in all kinds of directions by non-movie related demands. I can't quite put my finger on what made this movie more entertaining than annoying, but the fact that ten minutes didn't go by without a attractive woman getting naked was part of it.

Another part was, despite the fact that the tired cliche of a "hooker with a heart of gold, looking for a way out of the profession" was joined with the slur that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute was one part of the script that stuck in my craw more than anything, was that Elizabeth Di Prinzio (or Jessica T. Perez in some credits listings) gave such a good performance that I wished she'd had more screen time. I was interested in seeing how things turned out for this character, especially with all the references in the film to Jesus having returned to Earth and that they two of them were fated to meet again. (And this is the demon's plan: possess the reincarnated Mary and thus later possess the reincarnated Jesus. Not a very good plan, but still a plan... which is impressive given how stupid and shortsighted this demon is portrayed as.)

A fun, over-the-top performance by Jamie Macek as a demon-possessed homicide detective was also something I found entertaining. He gives viewers a villain to hate even when he's not possessed by the demon.

The rest of the cast, as I mentioned above, are about par for the course for movies at this budget level, including the lead actress Sally Mullins (who also produced the film and co-wrote the script with Devine), but none are downright awful--a couple are borderline, but they were obviously hired for their boobs and tattoos rather than acting talent. But with the two fun performances to lift the film up, everyone else is passable.

The only things that keep this film from getting a Five rating from me instead of the low Four it has now is that Devine and Mullins weren't very adept in hiding their sources of inspiration for the story. I'm not talking about Bible sources, but rather films like "Fallen" and "The Exorcist" and/or low-rent rip-offs like "Eerie Midnight Horror Show". Not hiding your sources becomes a danger when the audience keeps thinking how the source borrowed from is better than what we are currently being subjected to... and it becomes downright fatal when the movie's climax is one that has been done better many, MANY times over. And to make matters worse, the whole bit with Jesus walking the Earth and Mary Magdalene being reincarnated never really pays off... and the obligatory "shock twist ending" pretty much established that it never will.

In the end, "Demon Kiss" stands as a deeply flawed but watchable film... assuming you don't mind boobs and gore mixed in with a weakly conceived theological horror plot.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday Scream Queen: Melanie Denholme

Melanie Denholme is a young British actress who got her start professionally in the theatre in 2009, but by 2010 she had jumped career tracks to low-budget horror and sci-fi films. In two short years, she has appeared in half-a-dozen horror flicks, all directed by Philip Gardiner and several produced by Denholme herself.

According to interviews she has given, she likes roles where she gets to stretch herself, with vampire film "Lady of the Dark" being the film where she so far feels she has gotten to play the greatest range of emotions and become the furthest removed from herself.

Distributor Chemical Burn has provided me with several films starring Denholme, so expect to see her name and face here over few weeks.