Advertisements

Tag Archive: Bond girls


Review by C.J. Bunce

For a generation of film fans, the words “Hammer Horror” are synonymous with the first color horror movies and studio stars Peter Cushing and David Prowse, who would go on to find real fame in Star Wars, and Christopher Lee, who would be the go-to guy in the 21st century for dark, imposing characters in Peter Jackson’s J.R.R. Tolkien movies, James Bond, the Star Wars prequels, and much more.  Before these blockbusters, these British thespians made movies for a London film company called Hammer Film Productions, and they were instantly recognized as Baron Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster, and Count Dracula.  These aren’t the famous monsters of Universal Studios fame, but thanks to Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures’ distribution, their take on these classic horror characters gained their own international fan following.  In time for Halloween, Telos Publishing has released a new information-filled guide for fans of Hammer’s horror legacy, writer Alistair Hughes’s Infogothic: An Unauthorised Graphic Guide to Hammer Horror.

As for the “graphic” in the title, it’s a bit of a play on words–think infographics, charts, diagrams, illustrations, and maps connecting the often intertwined fantasy world inside the Hammer films.  The titles to the studio’s Dracula and Frankenstein sequels provide an idea of the absurdity film goers were in for, with a list that makes the Planet of the Apes pile of sequels seem pretty short: The Brides of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Kali–Devil Bride of Dracula, Dracula AD 1972, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Horror of Frankenstein, The Evil of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Frankenstein Created Woman, and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.  Hammer also made monster movies set much earlier than the 19th century.  The most famous starred Raquel Welch in Ray Harryhausen’s One Million Years BC and Ursula Andress in She.  Steven Spielberg would later provide a nod to Hammer films at the end of Jurassic Park.  The words on the banner falling in the final sequence with the T-Rex was an homage to the Hammer film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. 

One diagram in Infogothic recounts the 30 most famous actors to portray Dracula.  In others Hughes pieces together family trees based on information from the films for the Van Helsings and the Frankensteins.  A chart shows the number of adaptations of Frankenstein movies by decade (the 1970s wins with nine, and there has been 51 in all so far as we bask in the character’s 200th year).  Need to locate the story locations for each of the Hammer monster movies?  Hughes provides maps for that, too.  And Frankenstein’s monster and the Count aren’t the only monsters Hammer featured–the book includes interconnections of the several mummy movies and other creature features Hammer produced (The Gorgon, The Reptile, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, The Plague of the Zombies, The Abominable Snowman).  Hughes also includes details of lesser known and unproduced films throughout his book.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Review by C.J. Bunce

First published in March 1956, Diamonds Are Forever is Ian Fleming’s fourth James Bond novel.  This time Bond is tasked by M to follow the route of diamond smugglers transporting stones into England from Africa and on to the United States.  He replaces a small-time transporter and is partnered with the novel’s requisite “Bond girl,” Tiffany Case, and they embark on a trip to the Northeast United States.  Bond becomes an employee of The Mob, and is reunited with his former American ally Felix Leiter (minus an arm and leg after the shark incident in Live and Let Die).  The story moves on to Las Vegas, with some good gambling scenes, then on to a rebuilt Old West town called Spectreville, where Bond meets a strange and wealthy villain who collects real antique trains as if they were toys.  And the action culminates aboard the cruiseship Queen Elizabeth.  The novel is nicely bookended, beginning and ending at a thorn bush occupied by a scorpion in the middle of a desert.

Typically Ian Fleming and James Bond are at their worst when visiting America.  It’s difficult to enjoy the normally down-to-Earth Bond pick up his author’s clear disdain for Americans, whether his inner-monologue through Bond is truly a reflection of the times or not.  Fleming exhibits his peculiar theme of Americans rambling all their dialogue in long outbursts with “low English” dialect regardless of their social strata.  And Fleming seems to wallow in his racism in scenes set in America more so than with Bond in other locales.  But the biggest plus?  The lack of that James Bond misogyny compared to other Fleming efforts.  The seventh novel adapted into a film, and the last canon work for Sean Connery as Bond (he’d have one more go at it 12 years later in Never Say Never Again), Fleming’s fourth Bond novel and the film carrying its name ultimately share little resemblance, ultimately a good thing for moviegoers.  Yet with the current Bond and the reboot of the franchise with Casino Royale, a solid adaptation redo from a good screenwriter could be possible as the story is serviceable with a good edit.

   

The first act takes off too slowly.  The second act is very dry, reading like a travelogue, and at times it is nearly unbearable–to illustrate this point I began reading Diamonds Are Forever in 2014 and kept grinding to a halt (as noted in my review of Dr. No).  Somehow I began again and made it this weekend, thanks to a classic Bond casino scene in Chapter 17 and a stunning car chase action sequence in Chapter 18 that got me over the hump.  From then on, those final 100 pages, the story comes together and Bond, Tiffany Case, the corps of villains, and that classic Bond action finally kicks into high gear.

Continue reading

Mikkelson Salvation

When we think of Westerns made outside the United States the first that come to mind are usually those directed by Sergio Leone and scored by Ennio Morricone–the “spaghetti Westerns.”  The best of these are from the 1960s, A Fistful of Dollars and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.  Danish director Kristian Levring is bringing to the States the next Western this year with his revenge story The Salvation.

Better labeled a EuroWestern perhaps than spaghetti Western, the trailer for The Salvation is making the rounds now after a European release last year, finally to make it into select U.S. cinemas and OnDemand later this month.

The Salvation Eva Green

The last time we saw a movie that had that right Western look was the remake of 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, released in 2007.  Yuma was a little bit too Hollywood to result in a modern classic, but there’s something about The Salvation’s trailer that gives us hope.  It may be the lack of Hollywood’s A-List actors.  Instead we have two big European names, former stars of Casino Royale.  Mads Mikkelsen, the well-known Danish actor who plays Hannibal Lector in the American Hannibal TV series is the male lead, playing opposite genre favorite and “Bond girl” Eva Green (The Golden Compass, 300: Rise of an Empire).

After the break check out the trailer for The Salvation.

Continue reading

Aston Martin DB10 - New Bondmobile

The same agency that taunted James Bond in five classic James Bond films (Thunderball, Dr. No, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice) will be the title of the next Bond film, SPECTRE, the 24th in the current franchise and 26th to feature Bond if you include David Niven’s Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again.  SPECTRE, which stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion,” is the movie incarnation of the less gritty sounding SMERSH, a Russian acronym for “Special Methods of Spy Detection” in the original Ian Fleming Bond novels.  Two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz will star as the next Bond villain, named Oberhauser.  SPECTRE is also the agency led by fan favorite Bond villain Blofeld, which has led to speculation that Oberhauser is really an alias for Blofeld, like the much ballyhooed, almost-surprise villain Khan in the last Star Trek movie.

Although all Bond novel titles have been used for Bond films, unused titles for original Fleming authored Bond works include “The Hildebrand Rarity,” “Risico” or “The Double Take,” “007 in New York,” and “The Property of a Lady.”  You Only Live Twice, Never Say Never Again, Licence to Kill, The World is Not Enough, Tomorrow Never Dies, Die Another Day, Goldeneye and Skyfall were sourced from concepts within the novels, and A View to a Kill taken from the story “From a View to a Kill.”

SPECTRE movie poster teaser 2015

Even a slick new Aston Martin, the DB10 (shown above) is being rolled out for Bond for the next film.  After the break check out the new title teaser video for the film.

Continue reading

Game of Thrones - Season 3 Ygritte Rose Leslie

Game of Thrones returns to HBO for its third season a week from tomorrow.  And HBO has released several previews to give fans something to get psyched for.  If you’re not caught up on the series, Season 1 is available in a five-disc DVD version for $39.99 and a seven-disc Blu-Ray version for $47.99 and Season 2 is available in a five-disc version for $37.99 and a seven-disc Blu-Ray version for $47.99, both from Amazon.com.  You can also stream each episode of Season 1 and Season 2 also at Amazon.com to get caught up on the series at $2.99 per episode.

On Sunday, March 31, 2013, HBO airs the Season 3 opener “Valar Dohaeris.”  “Valar Dohaeris” is an expression in the Game of Thrones language High Valyrian, meaning “all men must serve”. It is a saying in the continent of Essos, and is the answer to the expression “Valar Morghulis” – “all men must die”. Sort of reminds us of the Ancient Roman Latin soldier sayings “Nos morituri te salutamus” meaning “We are about to die salute you” or “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori” meaning “It is sweet and honorable to die for the fatherland.”

HBO is certainly on top of things when it comes to previews.  It seems like no other series has put out so many.  Here are several that should either catch you up on the series or give you a look at what is coming soon.

Here is an official ten-minute Season 1 and 2 recap:

Continue reading

James Bond stands by himself as a character of any genre.  It’s been said over and over that he’s the man every man wants to be, and the man every woman wants to be with.   What makes Bond Bond is simple: the best British secret agent, he likes only the best of everything, dresses fashionably, prefers the best quality of drink including his signature shaken martini, he drives the best car, often an Aston Martin, and carries as his weapon a Walther PPK.   And yes, he finds himself surrounded with beautiful women.  Dubbed “Bond girls” over the past 50 years, the on-screen Bond girls sometimes match–and sometimes don’t–the character the role is based on from the original novel.  Not only a representation of beauty from the time of filming each Bond movie–at least in the eyes of the Broccoli family that produces and carefully selects who will be in each new Bond film–Bond girls don’t always serve as merely the film’s eye candy.  Bond girls have served as Bond’s love interests sure, but also can be double agents or villains, as partner or antagonist, driving the plot forward.  Often smart and tough, always glamorous, sexy, and sophisticated, often touting suggestive names they straddle the line between what some feminists might hate (after all, they are Bond girls, not Bond women), and the ultimate in femininity to aspire to.  Sometimes international models and sometimes international movie stars, they are as much as part of our popular culture as Mickey Mouse, Superman, and Uncle Sam.

So if you had to select one as your favorite, who would you choose?

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: