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The Last Of Shiela Review

The odd pair of Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim wrote this underseen thriller, a whodunit that puts widower James Coburn on a boat with his old friends, one of whom may have accidentally run over his wife a year ago in an unsolved hit-and-run. Is Coburn's live-action mystery game a clever way to ferret out the killer? Or is something more mysterious at work here? The body count will nearly fill a hand before a few days on the yacht are up, but it's the impressive cast and twisty script that will keep you watching to see who gets it next... and who gets away with it all.

On The Beach Review

Never mind the unfortunate title, this ain't Frankie and Annette. On the Beach is a movie that begins with the apocalypse: Nuclear war has wiped out the entire world except for Australia. (They were making movies like this in 1959???) It's here we find a U.S. submarine hanging out amidst Aussies living their lives, pretty much as normal only with less booze. The catch: Everyone knows the end is coming, as nuclear fallout makes its way across the Oceans, due to arrive in a month or two. But what's this Morse code signal coming from San Diego? Could someone be alive and transmitting? The sub's off on a recon mission to the wasteland, and meanwhile the Australians come to grips with certain death in a matter of weeks. While heartbreaking and touching, it's hard to imagine that riots aren't rampant and that martial law isn't required, but hey, it's a movie, and quite a good -- if overlong -- one, at that.

Mahogany Review

Thirty years after its release, Mahogany is still screened often... in gay bars. A minor camp classic starring Miss Diana Ross as a Chicago striver who claws her way to the top of the international high fashion scene, it's a mess of clichés, faulty feminist logic, and uncountable costume changes that mainly serve to enable Ross's raging narcissism.

Drunk on adulation from her Oscar-nominated performance in Lady Sings the Blues three years earlier, how could Ross resist such a star vehicle, especially one that let her design her own costumes: a decision, by the way, that ranks up there with the Watergate break-in as one of the worst ideas of the 1970s? Even Cher must have averted her eyes.

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Murder On The Orient Express Review

Classic Agatha Christie becomes a near-classic motion picture, as a dozen major stars are trapped on a snowbound train with what appears to be a killer on the loose. It's up to an absurdly made-up Poirot (Albert Finney) to unmask the murderer of a millionaire in this rich whodunit. Beautifully made and full of good one-liners, Ingred Bergman inexplicably won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as a relatively forgettable "simple woman." Odd.

Winter Kills Review

A real cult classic, this reimagining of the Kennedy assassination asks what might have gone down in an alternate and very similar universe. Based on the book by Manchurian Candidate author Richard Condon, the story gives us Nick Kegan (Jeff Bridges), the half-brother of a president assassinated 19 years earlier. Suddenly, evidence reveals there was more than one shooter that day (sound familiar?), sending him into a wild -- and often wildly funny -- hunt for his brother's actual killers. Dryly comedic, William Richert takes his directorial debut into impressive places -- and wow, check out that cast! Too bad it gets a little kooky in the end, but that doesn't detract much from a very fun movie.

The Trial Review

Welles' adaptation of Kafka's famous work is one of his most innovative and bizarre, a trip through the surreal that would have done Kafka proud. Anthony Perkins is a solid choice as Josef K., the protagonist who's accused of and tried for a crime -- without ever being told what it is. His journey through the dystopic justice system (though rambling) has as many modern day analogues as ever, and The Trial's stunning visuals ensure you won't be able to look away.

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The Black Hole Review

Disney's first PG-rated film was pioneering for its time (integrating special effects better than any film before it), but it suffers pretty badly today. Maximilian Schell steals the show as a slightly crazed spaceship captain obsessed with black holes (the film plays out with everyone parked next to one... waiting for something). Anthony Perkins and Robert Forster lend an air of respectability to the rest of the movie, which unfortunately spends way too long on the cute little robot exploring Schell's ship with his yokel-bot friend (voiced by Slim Pickens).

Boogeymen Review

Just when you think there are no new ideas in Hollywood comes a DVD like Boogeymen, which shakes up your expectations of the movies. With the promise of giving you "the greatest hits of horror," Boogeymen is a compilation of scenes from 17 horror movies, ostensibly the best-known bits of the movies' "boogeymen" doing their dirtiest work.

Some of these boogeymen are the real deal -- Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) at the end of the film, Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) in his finest hour, Jason (Friday the 13th) chasing a towel-wrapped co-ed, Pinhead (Hellraiser) ripping apart some dude. These are memorable horror baddies who haunted us during our youth. Then there are scenes from Wishmaster, Leprechaun, The Guardian, and even The Dentist -- not only is it not scary, it's silly and insulting to the other villains (like Psycho's Norman Bates) in the lineup. The Puppetmaster? And The Ugly? I've never even heard of The Ugly.

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Psycho (1960) Review

Thou shalt not take the term "genre-defining" in vain. How many movies, after all, really define a genre? That is, besides Psycho?

Alfred Hitchcock's first real horror movie not only set off a raging controversy and alarming threats of censorship, but it also ruined the morning shower for a generation of Americans. The shower scene, now one of the most famous and replayed moments in movie history, was just the knife's edge of this masterpiece of fear-dredging, Freudian obsession, and sadistic humor.

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Catch-22 Review

A wry and sarcastic (and thick as hell) book about the ridiculous duplicity of war? Sounds like a movie to me.

And so it did to Mike Nichols and Buck Henry, collaborators on The Graduate who conspired once again to make one of the greats of cinema. While Catch-22 has none of the cachet of other war movies (and we'll get to that...), it's by far one of the best out there, ranking with Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and Apocalypse Now as one of the greats.

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