1970’s

[5.5] John Wayne gave up the lead in 1971’s Dirty Harry and came to regret it. McQ is his attempt to get in on the vigilante cop craze, playing a cop who starts out investigating the murder of a friend and ends up unearthing a police corruption scandal. Along the way Diana Muldaur and Colleen Dewhurst compete for his affection. Both women have secrets and …

[6.0] John Wayne stars as a crotchety loner cowboy who goes in search of the gang who kidnapped his grandson. Big Jake is not a serious western. It’s more of a nostalgic love letter to old big-studio westerns. Sometimes that love undercuts the drama. Even though a boy’s kidnapping is what spurs the characters into action, they begin their adventure like a trip to Disney …

[6.5] Margot Kidder (Superman: The Movie) and Jennifer Salt star in director Brian De Palma’s blatant love letter to Alfred Hitchcock. De Palma starts the movie off in a Psycho-like fashion, introducing us to an actress (Kidder) who takes a man home for a one-night stand. After we spend a good twenty minutes or so with the lovers, a woman in an apartment across the …

[7.5] Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie star in Nicolas Roeg’s (Walkabout) film about a couple in Venice trying to get along after the accidental drowning of their young daughter. At lunch one afternoon, the couple meet a pair of old women who claim to possess psychic power. They say their daughter is happy and with them, but then they urge caution — that Sutherland’s life …

[2.0] When this Italian flick (originally titled Island of the Fish Men) was picked up for North American distribution, a new opening featuring some gloppy special effects and a handful of kills was added. That opening is the best part of this movie, even if it’s merely a visceral victory point. Once the opening characters are all killed, the story follows a small boat full …

[6.5] Julie Christie is trapped inside a house run by a super-computer called Proteus IV that wants to have a baby with her. Yep, you heard me. Demon Seed, based on the book by Dean Koontz, is mostly a one-woman show, with Christie running here and there, being captured and tormented by Proteus IV, which manifests itself as a disembodied voice (an uncredited Robert Vaughn), …

[2.5] Two Los Angeles couples partake in a seance, not realizing their medium, Count Yorga, is a vampire with intentions of adding the women to his harem. One of the couples, Paul and Erica, take the vampire home and have no memory of what happened afterwards. But when Paul finds Erica chowing down on the family kitten the next day, he’s pretty sure something is …

[6.0] While vacationing separately in Spain, a teenager (Timothy Bottoms) and a woman in her thirties (Maggie Smith) strike up an unlikely friendship that blossoms into romance. Both characters are introverts who help each other come out of their shells, but their relationship is put to the test when they encounter a wealthy duke and the woman reveals she has a terminal illness. Outside of their …

[7.0] Dogs and cats have been wiped out in a plague and apes have replaced them as pets. More like slaves, actually. Conquest is the least feasible scenario in the original Apes saga, but if you can swallow the setup, the movie turns out to be another solid sci-fi flick. Roddy McDowall returns, not as Cornelius (who died in the last movie), but as his …

[5.0] The last film in the original Apes franchise is also the most disappointing. Roddy McDowall returns as Caesar, trying to lead apes and humans in peaceful coexistence. It’s interesting to see how the movie ties into all the previous installments, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It also looks and feels cheap. Budget cuts make the final battle look like a …

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