Zaat

  • Directors: Don Barton, Arnold Stevens
  • Producers: Don Barton
  • Writers: Story, Ron Kivett, Lee O Larew, Screenplay, Don Barton, Uncredited, Arnold Stevens
  • Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
  • Actors: Marshall Grauer

The film begins with Nazi mad scientist Dr. Kurt Leopold – it is revealed later in the film that he graduated cum laude from MIT in 1934 – in his lab, where he has lived alone for about twenty years. He is comtemplating his former colleagues’ laughter at his formula (described as “ZaAt” — read Z-sub-A, A-sub-T — but which he simply calls “Zaat”). His formula can turn a man into a walking catfish. He injects himself with the serum emerges from a tank as a giant fish-like creature.

His first act of revenge on society that he feels has wronged him is to release several smaller walking catfish around the town’s lakes and river (filmed in the St. Johns River near Green Cove Springs), an annoyance to the townspeople, and releases Zaat into the local water supply, rendering many of the townspeople ill. Leopold decides to kill the colleagues that laughed at his work. He begins with a character named Maxson. In a lake where Maxson is fishing, Leopold swims under Maxson’s boat, overturns it, and proceeds to kill Maxson and Maxson’s son. Maxson’s wife escapes, although she is in shock from the attack.

Leopold attempts to kidnap another mate: his choice is Martha Walsh, the lovely female member of a scientific team sent to investigate the weird happenings in the town (caused by Dr. Leopold). Leopold grabs her after her male counterparts leave her alone. Leopold takes her to his lab, but two of her companions (having unraveled the plot) are waiting there. Leopold kills them (including the town’s sheriff Lou) violently. He injects her with Zaat, readies her to be dunked into the tank, and makes his getaway, with canisters of Zaat. Martha’s transformation does not go as planned and she gets saved by one of her dying male companions from getting dunked in the tank as Leopold flees toward the ocean. Despite being saved from the transformation, she immediately follows Leopold trance-like into the sea. The movie ends ambiguously, with Leopold seen shot but not killed.

Bad Santa

  • Directors: Terry Zwigoff
  • Producers: John Cameron, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
  • Writers: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa, uncredited, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Terry Zwigoff
  • Genres: Comedy, Crime, Drama
  • Actors: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Lauren Graham, Lauren Tom, with John Ritter, and Bernie Mac

The film begins in a bar on a December night in Milwaukee, where the viewer is introduced to Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton), a bitter, lonely alcoholic. Willie works the holiday seasons as a mall Santa along with his dwarf friend, Marcus (Tony Cox), who works as Santa’s elf. Every Christmas Eve, the two of them disable the security alarm after the mall closes and rob the mall safe; afterwards, Marcus returns to living with his wife (who Willie finds very ugly and annoying), Lois (Lauren Tom), while Willie goes to Miami and spends all his money on booze, a resort condo, and other purely hedonistic pursuits.

At the new mall they plan to steal from, Willie’s alcoholic rants arouse the suspicion of mall manager Bob Chipeska (John Ritter), who asks security chief Gin (Bernie Mac) to investigate. Meanwhile, Willie meets bartender Sue (Lauren Graham), and they begin a relationship. He also meets a pudgy, preteen boy, whom he nicknames the Kid (Brett Kelly), during their visit in the mall. When he leaves the bar and is confronted by a hostile man (Ajay Naidu), the Kid stops the man from beating up (or possibly raped due to the man turning him around) Willie after the guy falsely accuses Willie of being gay. A lonely, unpopular boy, the Kid lives with his senile grandmother (Cloris Leachman) who only says “Roger, you’re home! Let me fix you some sandwiches”; his mother is dead and his father is in prison for embezzlement. After taking the Kid home to the Kid’s father’s mansion, Willie breaks into the house safe, takes all the money, “borrows” his father’s BMW, and winds up spending the money on more booze.

In the final scene, Thurman wears a shirt that Willie sent him, which says on the back, “Shit happens when you party naked,” together with his original present. When Thurman goes out for a bike ride, the head bully appears and starts to taunt Thurman by threatening to steal his bike. But Thurman kicks him in the groin and rides off giving the bully the middle finger.

The Bishop s Wife

  • Directors: Henry Koster
  • Producers: Samuel Goldwyn
  • Writers: Novel, Robert Nathan, Screenplay, Leonardo Bercovici, Robert E Sherwood, Uncredited, Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven

Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) prays for divine guidance with the troubled building of a new cathedral. His plea is seemingly answered by a suave angel named Dudley (Cary Grant), who reveals his identity initially only to the clergyman.

However, Dudley’s mission isn’t to help with the construction of the cathedral. He is there as a guide to Henry and the people around him. Henry has become obsessed with the building to the detriment of his duties and marriage to his neglected, unhappy wife, Julia (Loretta Young). Everyone, except for Henry, is charmed by the newcomer, even the non-religious Professor Wutheridge (Monty Woolley). Dudley finally and easily persuades the wealthy parishioners, particularly Mrs. Hamilton (Gladys Cooper), to contribute the needed funds, but not to build the cathedral. He helps Mrs. Hamilton decide to give her money to feed and clothe the needy—much to Henry’s chagrin. He also redecorates the Broghams’ Christmas tree in two seconds, saves an old church by restoring interest in the boys’ choir, and arranges for the typewriter to automatically type Henry’s new sermon – which Dudley dictates without Henry’s knowledge.

When Dudley spends time cheering up Julia, there is an unexpected development: Dudley finds himself strongly attracted to her. Sensing this, Henry becomes jealous and anxious for his unwelcome guest to finish and depart. Eventually, he stands up to the angel. With his mission completed and knowing that Julia loves her husband, Dudley leaves, promising never to return. All memory of him is erased, and on Christmas Eve at midnight, Henry delivers the sermon which he now believes he alone has written.

Suspicion

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Uncredited, Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Edington
  • Writers: Novel, Anthony Berkeley, Screenplay, Samson Raphaelson, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville
  • Genres: Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Joan Fontaine, Cary Grant, Cedric Hardwicke, Nigel Bruce, Dame May Whitty

Handsome, irresponsible cad Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) sweeps dowdy Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine) off her feet and charms her into running away and marrying him, despite the strong disapproval of her wealthy father, General McLaidlaw (Cedrick Hardwicke). After their honeymoon, they set up housekeeping in extravagant fashion, though she soon learns that Johnnie is broke and was hoping to live off her father’s generosity. She persuades him to get a job; he goes to work for his cousin, Captain Melbeck (Leo G. Carroll).

Gradually, she learns that he has continued to gamble on the horses, despite his promise to quit, and that he has sold family heirloom chairs given to them as a wedding present to help pay for things. She repeatedly catches him in lies and discovers that he has been caught embezzling and fired, though Melbeck assures her he will not prosecute if the money is repaid. Johnnie’s good-natured, if scatterbrained, friend Beaky (Nigel Bruce) tries to reassure her that her husband is a good sort, but without much success.

When the general dies, Johnnie is severely disappointed to find that he left only his portrait to Lina. He convinces Beaky to finance his next venture, a land development, even though neither he nor Beaky know much about the business. Lina tries to talk Beaky out of it, but he trusts his friend completely. Johnnie overhears and warns his wife to stay out of his affairs; nevertheless, he calls the whole thing off. When Beaky leaves for Paris, Johnnie accompanies him partway. Later, news reaches her of Beaky’s death in Paris. Johnnie lies to her and an investigating police inspector about remaining in London. This and other details lead Lina to suspect he caused it.

Needing to get away for a while, she makes up a story to stay with her mother for a few days. Johnnie insists on driving her there. He speeds recklessly on a dangerous road beside a cliff; her door pops open and she is in danger of being thrown out to her death. Johnnie reaches for her, his intent unclear to the terrified woman. When she shrinks from him, he stops the car. She comes to the conclusion that the poison was meant for his suicide to get him out of his difficulties. Her suspicions allayed, they turn around and drive home.

Dick Tracy

  • Directors: Warren Beatty
  • Producers: Warren Beatty, Executive producers, Art Linson, Floyd Mutrux, Barrie M Osborne
  • Writers: Screenplay, Jim Cash, Jack Epps Jr, Uncredited, Warren Beatty, Bo Goldman, Max Allan Collins, Characters, Chester Gould
  • Genres: Action, Crime, Drama, Family, Thriller
  • Actors: Warren Beatty, Al Pacino, Madonna, Glenne Headly, Charlie Korsmo

At an illegal card game, a young street urchin witnesses the massacre of a group of mobsters (The Brow, Shoulders, Littleface and the Rodent) by Flattop, one of the hoods on the payroll of “Big Boy” Caprice, whose crime syndicate is aggressively taking over small businesses in the city. Detective Dick Tracy catches the urchin (who calls himself “Kid”) in an act of petty theft. After rescuing him from a ruthless guardian, Tracy temporarily adopts him with the help of his girlfriend, Tess Truehart.

Meanwhile, Big Boy coerces club owner Lips Manlis into signing over the deed to Club Ritz. He kills Lips and steals his girlfriend, the seductive and sultry singer, Breathless Mahoney. After police find the body, Tracy goes to the club to arrest Big Boy for Lips’ murder. Breathless is the only witness. Instead of providing testimony, she unsuccessfully attempts to seduce Tracy. Big Boy cannot be convicted and he is released from jail. Big Boy’s next move is to try to bring other criminals, including Spud Spaldoni, Pruneface, Ribs Mocca, Mumbles, Itchy, and Numbers, together under his leadership. Spaldoni refuses and meets an untimely demise that night. Tracy tries again to get the testimony from Breathless he needs to put Big Boy away.

Big Boy is back in business, but he, too, is framed, in this case for Tess’ kidnapping. Sprung from jail by his colleagues on New Year’s Eve, Tracy sets out to save his true love. He arrives at a shootout outside Big Boy’s club where all of Big Boy’s men are gunned down by the police and Tracy himself. Abandoning his crew, Big Boy ties Tess to the mechanism of a drawbridge, but he is confronted by both the Blank and Tracy. Desperate to escape, he shoots the Blank. Enraged, Tracy punches Caprice and sends him falling to his death in the bridge gears. Beneath the faceless figure’s mask, Tracy is shocked to find Breathless Mahoney, who kisses him and breathes her last breath. He then frees his girlfriend and his name is cleared from the murder of Fletcher. Later, in the middle of a marriage proposal to Tess, Tracy is interrupted by a robbery in progress, and takes off with the Kid, who now calls himself Dick Tracy, Jr.

Children of Men

  • Directors:
  • Producers: Marc Abraham, Eric Newman, Iain Smith, Hilary Shor, Tony Smith, Thomas Bliss, Armyan Bernstein
  • Writers: Novel, P D James, Screenplay, Timothy J Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Uncredited, Clive Owen 1
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam, Clare Hope Ashitey, Pam Ferris, Danny Huston, Peter Mullan, Michael Caine

The film is set in the year 2027. Due to an unexplained infertility pandemic, no human children have been born in any part of the world for more than eighteen years. The world has descended into chaos with most governments in the world collapsing, leaving the United Kingdom as one of the sole organised societies. At the beginning, it is said that Seattle is under a siege for its 1,000th day, and that there may have been a nuclear attack on New York. Consequently, millions of refugees (referred to as “fugees”) have flooded into the United Kingdom seeking asylum. As a result of the influx, Britain has become a militarised police state. The British Army occupies the streets and forcefully detains all ‘illegal immigrants’ and suspected sympathisers.

The film opens with Theo, an activist turned apathetic bureaucrat, buying coffee in a crowded coffee shop. There, he learns that the world’s youngest human, an eighteen-year-old known as “Baby Diego”, has been stabbed to death in Buenos Aires for refusing to sign an autograph. As Theo leaves the café on Fleet Street, he stops and adds some alcohol to his coffee and then a bomb explodes, destroying the coffee shop and killing numerous passers-by. The government attributes the attack to the Fishes, an underground resistance group advocating the rights of “every immigrant in Britain”. Shaken, Theo visits his friend, Jasper Palmer, a former editorial cartoonist and aging hippie. Jasper lives in a secluded hideaway in the countryside and spends his time growing cannabis and caring for his catatonic wife, a former photojournalist tortured by the government.

As the fighting resumes, they join Marichka and make their way to a small boat, and Theo rows Kee and her baby out to the buoy that marks the rendezvous point. As they depart from the coast, British fighter planes fly in and destroy Bexhill. Kee sees blood in the boat, and Theo admits that Luke shot him during their escape. Kee then says she will name her baby “Dylan,” after Theo’s deceased son. As Theo loses consciousness and slumps to the side of the boat, the Tomorrow emerges from the thick fog.

Lifeboat

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Writers: Novella, John Steinbeck, Screenplay, Jo Swerling, Uncredited, Ben Hecht
  • Genres: Thriller, War
  • Actors: Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee

Several American and British civilians are stuck in a lifeboat after their ship and a U-boat sink each other in combat. Willi (Walter Slezak), a German survivor, is pulled aboard and denies being an enemy officer. During an animated debate, Kovac (John Hodiak) demands the German be thrown out and allowed to drown. Cooler heads prevail with Garrett (Hume Cronyn) asserting the German’s prisoner of war status and he is allowed to stay.

Kovac takes charge, rationing the little food and water they have; but Willi gradually takes control away from him and is later revealed to be the U-boat captain. One morning, while the others are sleeping, the injured German-American Gus Smith (William Bendix) catches Willi drinking water from a hidden flask. Too delirious and weak to wake anybody up, Gus is pushed overboard by Willi and drowns while the others sleep. Upon waking, the others discover Gus missing and Willi is questioned. When they notice that the Nazi is sweating, the other passengers discover the hoarded flask in his jacket. In a spasm of anger they beat him up and throw him overboard, striking him multiple times to prevent him from reboarding. Musing on Willi’s treachery, Rittenhouse (Henry Hull) asks, “What do you do with people like that?”

The survivors are subsequently spotted by the German supply ship to which Willi had been steering them. Before a launch can pick them up, both are sunk by an Allied warship. A frightened young German seaman is pulled aboard the lifeboat and the passengers argue about keeping him or throwing him overboard to drown. The rescued seaman brandishes a gun and after being disarmed asks, “Aren’t you going to kill me?”. Kovac repeats, “What are you going do with people like that?”

Deliverance

  • Directors: John Boorman
  • Producers: John Boorman
  • Writers: Novel, James Dickey, Screenplay, James Dickey, Uncredited, John Boorman
  • Genres: Adventure, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, James Dickey

Four Atlanta businessmen â€“ Lewis (Reynolds), Ed (Voight), Bobby (Beatty), and Drew (Cox) â€“ decide to canoe down the fictional Cahulawassee River in the remote Georgia wilderness, expecting to have fun and see the glory of nature before the river valley is flooded over by the upcoming construction of a dam and lake. Lewis, an experienced outdoorsman, is the de facto leader. Ed is also a veteran of several trips but lacks Lewis’ machismo. Bobby and Drew are novices.

From the start, it is clear the four are far from what they know as civilization. The locals are crude and unimpressed with the presence of outsiders, and the film implies some of them are inbred. Drew briefly connects with a local banjo-playing boy by joining him in an impromptu bluegrass jam. But when the song ends, the boy turns away without saying anything, refusing Drew’s handshake. The four “city boys”, as they are called by one of the locals, exhibit a slightly condescending attitude towards the locals (Bobby in particular is patronizing).

Traveling in pairs on the river, the foursome’s two canoes are briefly separated. Pausing briefly to get their bearings, Bobby and Ed encounter a pair of unkempt hillbillies (Bill McKinney and Herbert ‘Cowboy’ Coward) emerging from the woods, one wielding a loaded shotgun. After a stray comment about a moonshine still offends the hillbillies, Bobby is forced at gunpoint to strip naked. McKinney’s character chases after and physically harasses Bobby as he tries to escape. His ear is twisted to bring him to his hands and knees, and he is then ordered to “squeal like a pig” as McKinney’s character proceeds to rape him. Ed is bound to a tree with his own belt, helpless as McKinney’s character violently sodomizes Bobby.

When they finally reach their destination, the town of Aintry (which will soon be submerged by the dammed river, and is being evacuated), they take the injured Lewis to the hospital while the Sheriff comes to investigate the incident. True to Lewis’s predictions, one of the deputies is related to the deceased hillbillies, and is highly suspicious. The three carefully concoct a cover story for the authorities about Drew’s death and disappearance being an accident, lying about their ordeal to Sheriff Bullard (played by author James Dickey) in order to escape a possible double murder charge. The sheriff clearly doesn’t believe them, but seems to have figured out what actually happened. After thinking it over, he simply tells the men: “I don’t ever wanna see you around here again… I’d kinda like to see this town die peaceful.” The three readily agree. The three vow to keep their story a secret for the rest of their lives, which proves to be psychologically burdensome for Ed: in the final scene, Ed awakes screaming from a nightmare in which a dead man’s hand rises from the lake.

The Invisible Man

  • Directors: James Whale
  • Producers: Carl Laemmle Jr
  • Writers: Novel, H G Wells, Screenplay, R C Sherriff, Uncredited, Philip Wylie, Preston Sturges
  • Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart

The film opens with a mysterious stranger, his face swathed in bandages and his eyes obscured by dark spectacles, taking a room at an inn at the English village of Iping (in Sussex). Never leaving his quarters, the stranger demands that the staff leave him completely alone. However, his dark secret is slowly revealed to his suspicious landlady and the villagers: he is an invisible man. When the innkeeper (Forrester Harvey) and his semi-hysterical wife (Una O’Connor) tell him to leave after he makes a huge mess in the parlor and drives away the other patrons, he tears off the bandages, laughing maniacally, and throws the innkeeper down the stairs. He takes off the rest of his clothes, rendering himself completely invisible, and tries to strangle a police officer.

The invisible stranger is revealed as Dr. Jack Griffin (Claude Rains), a scientist who has discovered the secret of invisibility while conducting a series of tests with a strange new drug called “monocane”. He returns to the laboratory of his mentor, Dr. Cranley (Henry Travers), where he reveals his secret to his fiancee Flora Cranley (Gloria Stuart), Dr. Cranley’s daughter, and to his one-time partner Dr. Kemp (William Harrigan). Monocane has rendered Griffin’s entire body undetectable to the human eye; alas, it also has the side-effect of driving Griffin insane. Cranley has investigated and discovered a single note about monocane (Griffin has burnt all his other papers to cover his tracks) in a now empty cupboard in Griffin’s empty laboratory, and realizes that Griffin has recently used it. On the evening of his escape from the inn, Griffin turns up in Kemp’s living room and imprisons him in his own house. He forces Kemp to be his partner again, and together they go back to the inn where Griffin stayed and retrieve his notebooks on the invisibility process. While there, he picks up a wooden stool and cracks the police officer over the head, killing him.

Although the film is sometimes hailed for its fidelity to H.G. Wells’ novel, it changes many aspects. The story is updated to 1933, rather than taking place in the 1890s. Griffin does not have a fiancee in the novel, there is no Dr. Cranley, and Griffin does not kill Kemp. (In fact, in the book, it is Kemp who pronounces Griffin dead at the end.) Kemp is neither an old friend nor an old partner of Griffin’s in the novel, just an acquaintance. Most important, Griffin does not use monocane to make himself invisible in the book, but instead another unnamed formula, and it is strongly hinted in the novel that Griffin was already mad long before he ever made himself invisible. The film portrays Griffin much more sympathetically than the novel, in which Kemp describes Griffin as “inhuman” to the police. In the film, he is shown regretting what he has done to Flora; Griffin shows no such regrets in the novel.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Producers: Walter Wanger
  • Writers: Novel, Jack Finney, Screenplay, Daniel Mainwaring, Uncredited, Richard Collins
  • Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
  • Actors: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, King Donovan, Carolyn Jones, Larry Gates

Set in the fictional town of Santa Mira, California (actually shot in Sierra Madre), the plot centers on Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy), a local doctor, who finds a rash of patients accusing their loved ones of being impostors. Another patient is a former sweetheart of his; recent divorceé Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter), who tells him that her cousin, Wilma, has this same strange fear about Uncle Ira.

Assured at first by the town psychiatrist Dr. Dan Kaufman (Larry Gates), that the cases are nothing but “epidemic mass hysteria”, Bennell soon discovers, with the help of his friend Jack Belicec (King Donovan), that the townspeople are in fact being replaced by simulations grown from plantlike pods; perfect physical duplicates who kill and dispose of their human victims. The Pod People are indistinguishable from normal people, except for their utter lack of emotion. The pod people work together to secretly spread more pods — which grew from “seeds drifting through space for years” — in order to replace the entire human race.

The film climaxes with Bennell and Driscoll attempting to escape the pod people, intending to warn the rest of humanity. They hide; Driscoll falls asleep and is subverted. With the pod people close behind, a seemingly crazed Bennell runs onto the highway frantically screaming of the alien force which has overrun Santa Mira to the passing motorists and (in a moment that is considered a breaking of the 4th wall) looks into the camera and yells, “They’re here already! You’re next!!!”