Saturday, March 31, 2018

Ranking The Star Wars Films

I bought THE LAST JEDI on Blu-ray this week. (Why would I buy a movie I wasn't particularly enamored with on home video? Because that's what I do.) When THE LAST JEDI came out in theaters last December, nearly every movie site on the internet came out with a "Ranking the Star Wars Films" list. I've been thinking about doing one of my own for a while, so here it is. (This list will be updated as future Star Wars films are released...and Disney apparently plans to make dozens more.)

I know this list is going to bother some people--so let me go over a few things first. Whenever I make one of these things, somebody invariably says, "You must hate such-and-such a title because you ranked it below this other movie!!" That's not how these things work. If I'm sitting at home and there's nothing else going on, and I discover that any one of the Star Wars films is on TV, I'll leave it on. I'd much rather watch even the prequels than 90% of all filmed entertainment.

The other thing one must remember while reading this post is that I am an original 1977 Star Wars fan. I was there at the very beginning, and nothing is going to have as much meaning for me as that very first Star Wars film. The impact it has had on my life is almost impossible to calculate. You could even say that if the original Star Wars had no influence on me whatsoever, I wouldn't have flown down to Texas to give Joshua Kennedy a hand with HOUSE OF THE GORGON. So if some of you are dismayed that I don't have all that much enthusiasm for anything other the sacred Original Trilogy....that's the way it is.

The following is a personal ranking of all 10 theatrically released Star Wars features. (Yes, there are ten of them...there's a wild card in the deck that most people overlook.) If you are asking, "What about the Special Editions?".....I'll deal with them at the end of the list.

My personal pick as my favorite movie of all time, and my pick as the greatest movie of all time.

The greatest sequel of all time, and it features what I consider the greatest single movie sequence of all time (the lightsaber duel between Luke and Vader).

Every time I watch this film I appreciate it more.

Plenty of folks still hate on this one...but when you compare it to the Star Wars movies in the last twenty years, ROTJ doesn't look all that bad.

This is the wild card. This 2008 theatrically released animated feature was essentially a pilot for THE CLONE WARS TV series. It did introduce the character of Ahsoka Tano, who is now a fan favorite...and it also includes a voice performance from Christopher Lee as Count Dooku. And yes, I think it's better than the Prequel Trilogy or the not-finished New Trilogy! How do you like those apples??

6. REVENGE OF THE SITH does have a lot of lightsaber battles.

Not as bad as a lot of people think.

I'm still very conflicted about this movie.

I still consider this as basically a remake of the original film, but with less engaging characters.

10. ATTACK OF THE CLONES does have Christopher Lee.

"Duel of the Fates"...and that's about it.

So...what about the Special Editions? They are different than the original versions, and they were released theatrically. Unfortunately...these Special Editions are now looked upon as the "official" versions of the Original Trilogy (though certainly not by me). I've decided to not separate the Original Trilogy into first and special edition versions because, sadly, many Star Wars fans around the world have never even seen the original versions.

But if I had to place the Special Editions on this list, they would be between #4 and #5--call them #4A, #4B, and #4C.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


It seems hard to believe that the great classic comedian W.C. Fields made a number of silent films, since so much of his persona is tied to his vocal inflections. But he did, and Kino Lorber has just released one of them on Blu-ray. The 1926 IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME gave Fields one of his earliest starring roles in a feature-length film, and it also co-starred Louise Brooks, who if anything is even more of a cult icon now than W.C.. 

I've read in several sources that IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME was an early version of Fields' 1934 sound classic IT'S A GIFT. I happen to think that IT'S A GIFT is one of the funniest comedies ever made, so I was looking forward to this Blu-ray after it was announced by Kino. It turns out that IT'S A GIFT is not really a straight remake of IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME, but the two titles do have a number of similarities. A lot of the comic material in IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME would be reworked and improved by Fields throughout his sound pictures. (I do have to say that IT'S A GIFT is the far more entertaining movie of the two.)

W.C. plays small town Florida drugstore proprietor Elmer Prettywille (even in the silent era Fields was using bizarre monikers for his characters). Elmer's life is one of daily frustration--he's constantly hounded by annoying customers and his equally annoying sister and nephew. The only person who doesn't cause Elmer any trouble is pretty Mildred (Louise Brooks), who works at the drugstore. Elmer thinks his life might change for the better when he gets involved in a real estate scheme with a New York City sharpie, but the poor sap just gets into further hot water. 

What "plot" there is in IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME is just an excuse to let Fields do his thing. His character here isn't as vicious or sarcastic as Fields would be in the 1930s. In fact his Elmer is such a klutz that one has to wonder how in the heck this guy can make a living running anything, let alone a drugstore. The gags in this film are funny, but not exactly of the laugh-out-loud variety. Not hearing Fields speak does affect this film. Many of the title cards which represent Elmer's dialogue seem to be the type of things one would expect Fields to say--but without hearing his unique sound and speech patterns, the jokes wind up being somewhat diluted. I have to think that if Fields had never made any sound films at all, he certainly wouldn't have become a cult icon. (One of the title cards does have Elmer say, "Never give a sucker an even break.")

Louise Brooks doesn't have much to do here except look attractive (which she certainly does). The story hints that Elmer is sweet on Mildred, but this suggestion never really gets developed. IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME was filmed at Paramount's Astoria Studios in New York, and some scenes were filmed on location in Florida. The movie was directed by Edward Sutherland, who would have a very short marriage with Louise Brooks and wind up working with W.C. Fields many times.

The visual quality on this Blu-ray is very sharp--it's quite impressive looking for a 1926 silent film. The music score is by Ben Model. The only extra is an okay audio commentary by film historian James L. Neibaur.

IT'S THE OLD ARMY GAME is definitely a film skewed more toward film buffs. It's a decent comedy, but not on the level of a typical Keaton or Lloyd feature. Louise Brooks fans might be disappointed in her small role, but at least you get to see her in a swimsuit. The main reason to buy this disc would be the novelty of seeing W.C. Fields in a restored, high-quality silent film. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

HOUSE OF THE GORGON--A Summary Of Events

*This post is dedicated to the entire Kennedy family.

I spent four full days--March 13 through March 16--on the set of Joshua Kennedy's grand ode to the English Gothic, HOUSE OF THE GORGON. The entire experience was simply overwhelming. I even wonder if I can adequately articulate how much it meant to me personally. Being a film buff is one thing--but lending a helping hand on the set of an actual film is another. I learned quite a bit, and made memories that will last a lifetime.

I will eventually write a full article detailing my time on the production, and hopefully it may be published. But until then I'll try to write a brief summation of what was one of the greatest weeks of my life.

La Antigua Revilla Banquet Center--the "Bray Studios" for Josh Kennedy's HOUSE OF THE GORGON

The entire filming of HOUSE OF THE GORGON took place at La Antigua Revilla Banquet Center in Edinburg, Texas. If you think this location was a bit unusual, consider this. The center had a warehouse/storage facility that had many pieces of furniture and other items that Josh was able to use for the production. The center also had a kitchen, restrooms, a make-up room, and enough space for Josh and his crew to create all the sets needed. If you happened to drive by during the shoot you would have never known what type of magic was being created within. (I might as well take this opportunity to mention Natalie Wise and the entire staff at La Antigua Revilla, who showed infinite patience in dealing with our shenanigans.)

While I was on the set I tried to help out the best that I could. (I also tried to stay out of the way and not mess things up.) Josh invited Mark Holmes and I out to the shoot, and I will be forever grateful to him for doing that. One thing that came across very clearly that this was work. There wasn't time to be a fanboy in this situation. Yes, we had fun, and spirits were high, but Josh was on a tight schedule, and the material he was working on was not simple. I really didn't take as many pictures as I wanted to because I had to be ready at all times in case I was needed for something...and also I wanted to give other people doing important work their own space--they certainly didn't need to be posing for snapshots. The days were long, but extremely productive. I moved props, lights, equipment...I held lights (and other things) during actual scenes, and yes, I am in the movie. In all honesty, however, I would have to say that my contribution to the project was rather negligible.

Three people who did make a major contribution to HOUSE OF THE GORGON were Martin Torres on camera, Rosa Cano on lighting, and Julian Flores on sound. These individuals had to be ready and on point during every scene--they were Josh's lifeline, so to speak. Of course, several other people were involved in various aspects of the production, such as Lauro Hinojosa, Jacob Ramirez, Bridgette Trevino, Tami Hamalian, Hektor Nunez, and Mitch Gonzales. I'm sure I've left out some folks--if anyone connected with the production feels that someone needs to be mentioned, please leave a comment below or at The Hitless Wonder Facebook Page.

The Bavaesque lighting of Rosa Cano

Josh's own family played a large part in getting HOUSE OF THE GORGON off the ground. Josh's Dad, Gus...his Mom, Ana...and his sister Kat...they all went above and beyond the call of duty.

As I'm sure you know by now, the main cast of HOUSE OF THE GORGON featured four famous names from the history of Hammer Films: Caroline Munro, Martine Beswicke, Veronica Carlson, and Christopher Neame. The fact that they all agreed to be in this film is amazing enough in itself--but each and every one of them gave their all to make the shoot as smooth as possible. There were no patronizing attitudes, no condescending behavior from anyone. They all approached the material as if they were at Pinewood or Elstree Studios working on a big-budget franchise film.

If you've ever met Caroline Munro, you know what a sweetheart she is. Caroline gets the chance to play a baddie here, and I could tell she was enjoying every minute of it. Martine, as one would expect, took her role and ran with it, in her own deliciously wicked way.

I told Veronica Carlson that it was fitting that she was playing the mother of Georgina Dugdale's character--since Georgina was playing the same type of role Veronica played for Hammer in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE and FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED. Veronica is probably the most elegant and gracious woman I have ever met in my entire life.

Christopher Neame brought a great deal of quiet intensity to the role of the village priest. What impressed me even more was Chris' interaction with Josh. Chris went out of his way to try and make every scene better--and he did it by working with Josh, instead of using his vast experience to overwhelm him. It was a true collaboration.

A team-up greater than the Justice League and the Avengers combined--(from bottom to top) Caroline Munro, Martine Beswicke, Joshua Kennedy, Georgina Dugdale, Veronica Carlson, and Christopher Neame

Georgina Dugdale, who is actually Caroline Munro's daughter, was perfect as the archetypal classic horror film heroine--she certainly has inherited her mother's on-screen charisma. I can't forget to mention Marco Munoz and Jaime Trevino, members of the Gooey Films Stock Company. And that Kennedy kid? Yeah, he was okay too.

Usually when multiple horror/sci-fi icons are featured in a single film, the results are invariably disappointing--consider movies like SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN and THE BLACK SLEEP. I can assure you that here, Josh has given Caroline, Martine, Veronica, and Chris major roles. They each get a chance to shine, and they all interact with one another--it's pure English Gothic heaven. And I was there to witness it being created.

The young man behind all of this was Joshua Kennedy. His energy, creativity, and positive manner, under some very adverse conditions, never ceased to amaze me. He took upon himself the roles of producer, writer, director, and actor, and he had to deal with four cult icons...but in the end he succeeded. He did it. He accomplished his dream project, and he did it on his own terms. He had to deal with all sorts of setbacks--including a few I am not at the liberty to discuss--but in the end he made it happen. I really want to see this film, not because of anything that I had to do with it, but because I want to see a true brand new English Gothic screen tale. And that is exactly what HOUSE OF THE GORGON will be.

Because of the brilliance of a talented young man I am blessed to call a friend, a very diverse group of people--from very different backgrounds--came together to work toward a common goal. Because that goal was achieved, some of the greatest acting legends in classic horror history get the chance to star again in a project befitting them. I saw all of this with my very own eyes--and it was a wondrous thing to behold.

There ain't no Hammer ladies in Indiana. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Special Announcement Concerning Joshua Kennedy's HOUSE OF THE GORGON

Next week begins production on multi-Rondo Award nominated filmmaker Joshua Kennedy's (THE NIGHT OF THE MEDUSA, THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR) latest opus, HOUSE OF THE GORGON. The movie is obviously influenced by the classic English Gothic horrors of Hammer Films. Josh is a lifelong Hammer fan, and all of his features have been impacted by the company in one way or another.

With HOUSE OF THE GORGON, the Hammer influence will be more than just stylistic. A number of performers who actually starred in several big-screen English Gothic adventures will be part of the cast. HOUSE OF THE GORGON will showcase Caroline Munro (CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER), Martine Beswicke (DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE), Veronica Carlson (FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED), and Christopher Neame (DRACULA A.D. 1972). The movie also stars Josh himself and Georgina Dugdale.

This is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that Josh has instigated in bringing this type of cast together in a Gothic tale worthy of their talents. I'm honored to say that Josh has invited me to help out in the proceedings. As a young teenager living in the American Midwest in the 1980s, I watched Hammer movies constantly on the Son of Svengoolie program....and now to be involved in something like this will be simply amazing.

For updates on the production of HOUSE OF THE GORGON, keep track of the official Facebook and Twitter pages for the film. I'll also try to sneak in a blog post on how things are going next week.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


This is my 600th post....and of course it has to be on a film which features Peter Cushing.

Yesterday Turner Classic Movies showed THE BLACK KNIGHT, a 1954 British swashbuckler starring Alan Ladd, of all people, in the title role. Peter Cushing, in one of his best screen roles before he became associated with Hammer Films and Gothic horror, plays the villainous Sir Palamides. I had seen the film before, way back in the 1980s on either TBS or TNT. I had not seen the film since (I don't even think it is officially available on American home video), and I wondered how it would look to me after all these years.

THE BLACK KNIGHT, which takes place during the time of King Arthur, centers around a simple blacksmith named John (Alan Ladd), who is in the service of the Earl of Yeonil (Harry Andrews). John becomes embroiled in a plot to overthrow King Arthur by King Mark of Cornwall (Patrick Troughton) and the treacherous Saracen Sir Palamides (Peter Cushing). Due to John's humble origins, he must disguise himself as the Black Knight to defend Arthur's throne. He is assisted in this endeavor by his mentor Sir Ontzlake (Andre Morell).

THE BLACK KNIGHT was one of a series of British productions that Alan Ladd starred in during the early 1950s. Albert Broccoli, who would go on to co-originate the James Bond film series, was co-producer on all of them. THE BLACK KNIGHT was filmed in England and in Spain, and I noticed that the environs of Black Park were used as well (the locale is unmistakable to a Hammer fan like myself). It is a colorful production, well photographed by John Wilcox, with impressive costumes, and plenty of action. There's all sorts of jousts, sword fights, arrow attacks, horsemen riding to and fro--all the things one expects from a tale of this kind. (It even gives an explanation for why Stonehenge fell into ruin!) The movie is only 85 minutes long, and the director, Hollywood veteran Tay Garnett, doesn't let things bog down for too long.

What keeps the film from being considered a classic of its genre is the leading man. Alan Ladd may have fit in the realms of film noir or the Old West, but he sticks out like a sore thumb when he's supposed to be fighting for King Arthur. A couple of times during the movie his character is referred to as a "young man"--which gives the viewer pause, since Ladd was 40 when this was made, and he looked older. It doesn't help that Ladd is surrounded by fine British actors who have a way with the florid dialogue. Ladd himself has barely any dialogue whatsoever--I assume that this was on purpose--but it doesn't help the audience make a connection with his character. Watching THE BLACK KNIGHT in HD makes it fairly easy to ascertain that a stunt double was doing most of Ladd's heavy work. There were a number of times, when the character of John had his back to the camera and was speaking to another person, that it seemed to me that the stunt double was being used there as well.

Alan Ladd's greatest??

It's hard for any actor, no matter how accomplished, to look natural in an elaborate full suit of armor, but Ladd in particular appears out of place when he's dressed up as the Black Knight. His armor looks about two sizes too big for him, and Ladd's body language signals his discomfort. (It's well known among film buffs that Alan Ladd wasn't the tallest guy in the world.)

I'm not trying to pick on Alan's just that this film wasn't suited for his abilities. Ladd had a sparse, no-nonsense acting style, and a medieval adventure like THE BLACK KNIGHT needs an Errol Flynn type, someone dashing and energetic.

The person who does show the most dash and energy in the cast is ironically the villain played by Peter Cushing. His Sir Palamides is a snide, sadistic sort, reveling in his nastiness. Cushing plays the role to the hilt, the way a traditional villain should be portrayed. At one point Patrick Troughton's King Mark, in league with Sir Palamides, puts his hands on the Saracen's shoulders...and Cushing's reaction to this perceived insult tells all you need to know about his character's state of mind. Cushing even does his famed "finger pointing for emphasis" bit. The actor has to wear very dark facial makeup here (and even earrings), but I think he resembles the way Basil Rathbone looked in his villainous roles of the 1930s. If Cushing had not wound up in the horror genre, he might have gotten a lot more roles like Sir Palamides.

Peter Cushing as Sir Palamides

THE BLACK KNIGHT is an above-average story about knights of old. If it had featured a more proper leading man, it would be more highly regarded (and it certainly wouldn't be out of circulation on home video). It gave Peter Cushing what was up till then his largest big-screen role, and it proved that he could hold his own not just against his acting contemporaries, but against a famous Hollywood star as well. Deborah Del Vecchio and Tom Johnson's book PETER CUSHING: THE GENTLE MAN OF HORROR AND HIS 91 FILMS points out something else about THE BLACK KNIGHT. Alan Ladd's son, Alan Ladd Jr., would become a Hollywood executive and have major responsibility on allowing STAR WARS to be put into production--a film which of course had an impact on the persona of Peter Cushing.

Monday, March 5, 2018


Last night Turner Classic Movies spotlighted the Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong, a beautiful and charismatic performer. Among the films presented was a rare showing of the 1931 film DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON. (You didn't actually think I'd watch the Oscars, did you??) This movie allowed Wong to have the leading female role in a major Hollywood studio production, a rare thing in her career. Wong often was given supporting parts in such films as THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD and MR. WU. In both of those titles non-Asian actresses were given the major parts, parts that were far more suited to Wong. I have both of those movies on home video and I can tell you that Wong is far more dynamic and interesting than the supposed female stars billed above her.

DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON is the third in a series of films made by Paramount that featured Sax Rohmer's infamous super-villain Dr. Fu Manchu. Warner Oland, who would become legendary for playing Charlie Chan, played Fu Manchu in the series. I have never seen the first two films, and what information I have on the series has been gleaned from the TOME OF TERROR books by Troy Howarth and Chris Workman. From what I can ascertain, the Paramount Fu Manchu series is very different from the MGM film THE MASK OF FU MANCHU starring Boris Karloff and the 1960s Fu Manchu movie series with Christopher Lee.

Warner Oland makes a very brief appearance in the early part of DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON--he basically shows up to pass the baton to Anna May Wong, who plays his daughter. The movie does not feature Sir Nayland Smith, who was Fu Manchu's nemesis in the Rohmer novels (having a Fu Manchu movie without Nayland Smith is like having a Professor Moriarty movie without Sherlock Holmes). The family of Dr. Petrie, who was Watson to Nayland Smith's Holmes, does play a large part in the story. Fu Manchu blames a Petrie ancestor for the deaths of his wife and son during the Boxer Rebellion, and he vows to kill off all the remaining male members of the family. Fu Manchu does manage to kill the eldest Petrie (Holmes Herbert), but during the act he is mortally wounded by a Chinese detective (Sessue Hayakawa, best known for his role in THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI).

Before Fu dies he reveals to the unknowing Ling Moy (Wong), a professional dancer, that she is his daughter, and that it is she who must uphold her family's honor and destroy the young Robert Petrie (Bramwell Fletcher). She agrees, but she is torn between her sworn duty and her interest in both Robert and Hayakawa's detective.

Anna May Wong

Considering that this film was made in 1931, and it's a story that concerns Fu Manchu to boot, I expected DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON to be as non-PC as possible. But the film turned out to be more nuanced than I would have thought. It's nowhere near as outlandish as THE MASK OF FU MANCHU, which is one of the wildest Pre-Code thrillers ever made. Fu Manchu is the antagonist, but one understands why he is on a path of vengeance. Fu isn't trying to take over the world, like in so many of the Rohmer novels--his plans are fixated on one single family. The Asian characters in this film are treated for the most part with some respect--especially so for an American film made in 1931.

Anna May Wong brings a lot of emotional complexity to what could have easily been a one-note role. (Just compare Wong's performance with that of Myrna Loy as Fu's daughter in THE MASK OF FU MANCHU.) She attracts the characters played by Fletcher and Hayakawa due to her natural beauty and charm, not because she's an evil temptress. Wong's Ling Moy is determined to carry out her father's wishes, but she's also conflicted about the situation as well. DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON not only allows Wong to show how accomplished an actress she was, it also gives her the opportunity to wear a number of elaborate costumes. Paramount could have easily made a new series of adventures featuring Wong.

DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON does suffer from some early sound-movie stodginess, but director Lloyd Corrigan does pick up the rhythm in the latter stages of the tale. The cast includes a number of performers who would make appearances in various Universal horror films--Bramwell Fletcher (THE MUMMY), Frances Dade (DRACULA), and Holmes Herbert and Lawrence Grant, who showed up in a number of them.

I'd really like to see all the Paramount Fu Manchu movies released on home video. The fact that the character is now considered politically incorrect might cause some concerns, but for better or worse Fu Manchu is one of the most influential villains in modern pop culture. I've actually read many of the original Sax Rohmer Fu Manchu novels, and while I wouldn't call them great literature, they are entertaining. The same can also be said for DAUGHTER OF THE DRAGON, which if for nothing else should be cited for giving Anna May Wong a chance to shine.

Saturday, March 3, 2018


Last week I received the latest issue of CINEMA RETRO in the mail--issue #40, to be exact. I've written a number of blog posts about CINEMA RETRO...the people behind it do a fantastic job covering films from the 1960s and 1970s, and it is one of my favorite magazines ever. (Sadly, it is now one of the few film magazines left that continues to regularly publish a print edition. The less books & magazines we have in the world, the less civilization we have also.)

CINEMA RETRO does much more than showcase "the usual suspects"--they also give extensive coverage to several movies from the 60s and 70s that have fallen through the cracks. One of these such films highlighted in issue #40 is the strange WWII tale CASTLE KEEP, starring Burt Lancaster and directed by Sydney Pollack. I have this film on a DVD set of various war movies released by Mill Creek, but I had not gotten around to watching it until I found out that CINEMA RETRO would be featuring it. All the information about the making of the film contained in this post comes from the article in issue #40.

Burt Lancaster (who was the main force in enabling the film to be made) stars as the tough Major Falconer, who leads a small group of American soldiers to a medieval castle in the Ardennes Forest during the waning days of WWII. The only residents of the castle are a middle-aged count (Jean-Pierre Aumont) and his very beautiful and very young wife (Astrid Hereen). The castle is filled with all sorts of rare art treasures, and Capt. Beckman (Patrick O'Neal), who happens to be an art historian, tries to convince the Major of the necessity of protecting the estate from the ravages of war. The Major is determined to use the castle to make a stand against an oncoming German offensive--that is, when he's not bedding the young Countess. (The Count encourages this, since he himself is impotent and wants an heir to carry on the family name.) The rest of the bored, weary soldiers spend most of their time ruminating on the various state of affairs, before the Germans finally come in an explosive climax.

CASTLE KEEP tries to be a meditation on the insanity of war, but it comes off as pretentious and unfocused. The movie has all sorts of showy camera and editing techniques, and most of the characters engage in discussions that reflect on the fact that war is bad (as if we didn't already know that). The soldiers act and talk too post-modern to be believable as 1940s Americans. A major sequence in the story has the soldiers going to a bordello at a nearby village, and the girls who work there resemble 1960s Las Vegas cocktail waitresses.

The movie has all sorts of weird elements to it--one of the soldiers becomes obsessed with a Volkswagen, another starts to see one of the portraits in the castle come to life, and Bruce Dern has a small role as the leader of a group of "conscientious objectors" who wander around the local village and sing hymns. Another soldier is an African-American who happens to be a writer. All of these elements seem contrived--CASTLE KEEP reminded me of those 21st Century independent films that try to be as quirky as possible.

Obviously anti-Vietnam War sentiment had an influence on the attitude of this film. But it's hard to say this movie has an anti-war message when the climax is one big gigantic battle sequence. It does have to be said that the battle sequence is very well done. The movie was shot in the then-Yugoslavia, as a lot of epic films were back in those days. Most of the castle was actually a large set built on location, and it gets destroyed quite spectacularly. CASTLE KEEP certainly wasn't a cheap film, and it's not badly made--it's just that, for me personally, the whole enterprise goes out of its way to be as unusual as possible. The basic question of the film--it is worth it to destroy creative art in a war if the destruction helps out the side that supposedly supports such art in the first place?--would make an intriguing premise for a more traditional WWII tale. Here, the question gets lost among all the bizarre detours.