Tag Archives: Maximilian Schell

The Black Hole (1979, Gary Nelson)

The Black Hole is a weird–and bad–movie. American science fiction usually avoids religion, at least literalizing religion, but Black Hole embraces it. Maybe I shouldn’t spoil it. But it’s from Disney too. It’s a Disney movie with Heaven and Hell.

When the film cuts to Maximilian Schell during these sequences, the film feels like a Fellini knockoff. But it’s not. It’s Disney.

There are even terribly designed cute Disney robots flying around and talking in the voices of Roddy McDowell and Slim Pickens. McDowell’s not unbearable but the idea of a robot being built to sound like a Western sidekick? It’s idiotic, like most of the film. No one but Schell can endure the dialogue. It’s incredibly bad–all expository for the first half, then the rest of the movie’s a chase and the dialogue’s all declarative.

The declarative is a lot better than the exposition. Robert Forster and Yvette Mimieux can handle the latter. They’re both awful during the first half. Joseph Bottoms, Anthony Perkins and Ernest Borgnine are all terrible throughout; Bottoms being the worst. He never manages a single good delivery.

What makes the film watchable is the special effects. As dumb as the cute robots look, the effects flying them around are fantastic. The miniatures are amazing. The post-production effects–the space ship engines and so on–are awful, but the miniatures are great.

John Barry’s score is half okay, half awful… which is a better percentage than the rest of the picture.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Gary Nelson; screenplay by Jeb Rosebrook and Gerry Day, based on a story by Rosebrook, Bob Barbash and Richard H. Landau; director of photography, Frank V. Phillips; edited by G. Gregg McLaughlin; music by John Barry; production designer, Peter Ellenshaw; produced by Ron Miller; released by Buena Vista Distribution Company.

Starring Maximilian Schell (Dr. Hans Reinhardt), Anthony Perkins (Dr. Alex Durant), Robert Forster (Captain Dan Holland), Joseph Bottoms (Lieutenant Charles Pizer), Yvette Mimieux (Dr. Kate McCrae), Ernest Borgnine (Harry Booth), Roddy McDowall (V.I.N.CENT.), Tom McLoughlin (Captain S.T.A.R.) and Slim Pickens (B.O.B.).

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Vampires (1998, John Carpenter)

Vampires is a mess.

I mean, there’s some good stuff in it, but it feels like the least interesting parts of the characters’ stories. There’s a little bit of sequel setup–and the never happened sequel seems a lot better–but so does a prequel to the film’s events.

It takes place over a couple days and a lot happens in them. To fill the audience in, Carpenter has a bunch of expository scenes. While they’re not terrible, they’re just James Woods swearing a lot and beating up Tim Guinee. Woods and Carpenter sell the scenes… it’s just unfortunate the scenes are so narratively unnatural.

Carpenter opens with a big vampire battle scene, introduces his characters, then proceeds to kill off most of them. He leaves Woods and Daniel Baldwin. Woods is the lead, so he has to stick around. But Baldwin? He’s not even a sidekick. Almost immediately after the movie’s done with its setup, Baldwin’s off babysitting Sheryl Lee as she turns into a vampire.

The babysitting scenes are really, really boring.

A lot of the problem is Carpenter’s approach to vampires. They’re very bestial, but by dehumanizing them, they don’t make good villains. There’s not a single scary moment in the film and some of the scenes–the vampires digging themselves out of the ground–just look silly.

The performances are okay. Guinee’s good, Baldwin and Lee have really good moments. Maximilian Schell is bad.

Nice cinematography from Gary B. Kibbe. Carpenter’s totally dispassionate, but still professional.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Carpenter; screenplay by Don Jakoby, based on a novel by John Steakley; director of photography, Gary B. Kibbe; edited by Edward A. Warschilka; music by Carpenter; production designer, Thomas A. Walsh; produced by Sandy King; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring James Woods (Jack Crow), Daniel Baldwin (Anthony Montoya), Sheryl Lee (Katrina), Thomas Ian Griffith (Jan Valek), Maximilian Schell (Cardinal Alba), Tim Guinee (Father Adam Guiteau), Mark Boone Junior (Catlin) and Gregory Sierra (Father Giovanni).


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