February 18th, 2010

THE LOST PATROL (1934) ***

A squadron of soldiers lost in the Mesopotamian desert gets picked off one by one by an unseen Arabian sniper.  While taking refuge at an oasis, the sniper scares away their horses, leaving the men stranded and scared.  Some of the soldiers face their fears with alcohol and others with thoughts of women; but Sanders (Boris Karloff) turns to God for answers.  He gets worked up into a religious fervor and quickly goes insane.  It’s then up to the sergeant (Victor McLaglen) to keep a cool head and defend the fort against the stealthy sniper.

 

Director John Ford’s The Lost Patrol is a solid, if unspectacular tale of survival.  What I appreciated most about the movie was that it was only 71 minutes long, so there was no fat on it.  A lesser director might’ve been tempted to pad the running time a bit with a bunch of useless subplots but Ford keeps the suspense as tightly wound as possible.

 

Ford also gets a lot of mileage out of his capable cast.  The best performance comes from Boris Karloff as the religious nut who goes crazy.  He’s great in this and shows you that his talents weren’t solely limited to the horror genre.  McLaglen is also impressive as the stalwart sergeant and Wallace (Freaks) Ford puts in a memorable turn as a soldier who inadvertently kills one of his own men.

 

The Lost Patrol is on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of 1934 at the Number 3 position; which places it right in between two other Karloff classics, The Black Cat and The Mysterious Mr. Wong.

ROUGH RIDERS’ ROUND-UP (1939) ** ½

Before he started up his chain of fast food restaurants, before he married Dale Evans, before he partnered up with Gabby Hayes; Roy Rogers starred in this predictable but mostly entertaining western.  Roy plays a former Rough Rider turned Border Patrolman who aims to catch some gold thieves that are hiding out in Mexico.  Unfortunately for Roy, he can’t cross the border to arrest them, so he intentionally does something really stupid to get himself thrown off the force.  That way he can go after the bad guys without worrying about little things like “jurisdiction”.

 

Rough Riders’ Round-Up is a slightly above average oater on all accounts.  It features all the barroom brawls, stagecoach hold-ups, and shootouts you’d expect from this kind of thing.  None of it is exactly earth-shatteringly revolutionary or anything but it’s sorta fun.  Plus, the flick is only 52 minutes so you can basically watch it in the time it takes for your clothes to get out of the dryer. 

 

I haven’t seen too many Roy Rogers movies (I’m more of a John Wayne man myself), but I liked Rough Riders’ Round-Up okay I guess.  Rogers’ immensely likable performance is pretty much the biggest reason to check it out.  In addition to kicking a modicum of ass, he also sings and even yodels!  It really speaks highly of somebody’s badass credentials when you can pop a cap in somebody’s ass and yodel in the same movie and still look cool. 

BLOODY NEW YEAR (1987) **

A bunch of snotty British teens go out sailing and get a hole in the bottom of their boat.  They make it to shore and seek shelter in an abandoned hotel.  Unbeknownst to them, the place is haunted by ghosts from the 50’s that possess the teens and turn them against one another.

 

The title makes it sound like Bloody New Year is going to be a standard issue holiday themed slasher from the 80’s.  It’s actually more like a remake of The Evil Dead (minus the over the top gore) set in the Overlook Hotel.  Because of the constant genre-hopping, the movie never makes up it’s mind what it wants to be and quickly turns into a muddled mess.

 

If you couldn’t already tell, not a whole lot of Bloody New Year makes much sense but it does have a few WTF moments that liven things up.  There is one pretty cool scene where a chick gets sucked into an elevator wall as well as a random ass seaweed monster attack.  I also liked the opening scene where a trio of hooligans harassed our heroes in an oceanfront amusement park because it reminded me a lot of the boardwalk I grew up on.  But on the other hand, you have to put up with a lot of useless padding, some truly awful performances, and a shitload of stupidity (especially the ending); so there’s a good chance you’ll probably hate it too. 

 

AKA:  Horror Hotel.  AKA:  Time Warp Terror.