December 21st, 2007

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Scream in the Night" featuring Lon Chaney Jr.

"Scream in the Night" is not a lost classic in the vein of "Spider Baby," but it is an interesting flick nonetheless. The opening credits features Lon Chaney Jr. in this B-Studio quickie. During the credits, Lon Chaney Junior is seen as both the romantic leading man and the villain's henchman. It should be noted that Chaney's henchman has a strong resemblance to his father's brutal look in "The Road to Mandalay."

It should be noted that Richard "Dick" Cramer has a role as Chaney Jr.'s boss. To my knowledge, "Scream in the Night" might be this ruffian's only good guy role. Cramer often played Laurel and Hardy's bully who once twisted their legs and wrapped them around their necks. Cramer can also be seen in unbilled parts in various big budgeted movies, like "North West Passage" and "The Spoilers."

"Scream in the Night" clocks in at 59 minutes. It takes place in some "foreign land" where people where turbans, Chinese people through knives and the villians speak in French and cheap Spanish accents. The cheif villain lassoes his victims. The climax features a knockdown dragout brawl in which hero and heroine defeat the villians.

"Scream in the Night" is in public domain and can be found on some public domain anthology series.
Lon Chaney Junior aquits himself quite nicely. If it were not for his alcoholism, one sees such potenial as both a leading man and character actor.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Attend the Tale of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street!"

Tim Burton. Johnny Depp. Helena Bonham Carter. Stephen Sondheim.
The combination of these four people make for a special movie, a musical horror movie. Perhaps the more snobbish critics would see "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" as an operetta of grand guingold. Either way, the film is a unique experience and was created by people who understand both the horror and musical theatre genres.

"Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" had a poor opening weekend, but is likely to stay on the big screen until the Golden Globes ceremony. The producers would have better served themselves if they released "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" a few weeks ago and closer to Halloween. Under Tim Burton's direction, this film has all the gothic blood letting worthy of Hammer Films.

The music is beautiful and Johnny Depp acquits himself. Depp is no George Hearn, but his vocal performance works well on film. Considering that Angela Landsbury originated the role, Helena Bonham Carter is a bit young as Mrs. Lovett. Yet Helena Bonham Carter makes a connection to the modern goth culture. Last, but least, Alan Rickman scores another trophy on his Rogue's Gallery shelf. Rickman and Depp sincerely sing Stephen Sondheim's "Pretty Women."

"Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is not a pretty movie. However it is a good terror movie with music to catch after the holiday season.

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"National Tresure Book of Secrets" full of Box Office Treasure.

"National Treasure Book of Secrets" is a can't lose family film. The American public responded with a 45 million dollars box office revenue. "National Treasure Book of Secrets' provides a fast paced lecture on American history and makes the film fun to watch.

The leading man in both "National Treasures" is Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage). The leading lady is Abagail (Diane Kruger) and the sidekick is Riley (Justin Bartha). All three characters have not adjusted very well to their new found fortune. Ben and Abagail have broken up and Riley is being hounded by the IRS. At least Ben and his father, Patrick (Jon Voight) are enjoying their reconciliation. Until mean Mr. Wilkinsin (Ed Harris) implicates the Gates ancestorswith the assassination of our first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln.

In order to redeem the family, Ben and his motley crew travel to France, Great Britain and the White House to find the truth. Through secret panels, claustophic car chases and dangerous caves, the Gates family reunite and overcome their family squabbles.

The performances really drive this "National Treasure Book of Secrets." With the exception of Ed Harris who seems unable to stick to one southern accent, the actors seems to be having a fun time making this motion picture. The big flaw occurs during the action sequences. The editors seems to be from the film school that only promotes Attention Deficit Disorder graduates.