Friday, November 24, 2017

WHAT AM I WATCHING THIS WEEK? - Edition 11: 11/24

As Thanksgiving week comes to a close, Retro Movie Nerd has your fix for streaming ideas. Netflix might have Stranger Things 2 and The Punisher, but if you're like us and just enjoy movies, then Amazon Prime is probably the best subscription for your money. This week's selections include a martial arts film considered to be one of the greatest in its genre, a cult film that spoofs the b-movies of the '50's, and a sci-fi thriller about an invisible strangler.

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin - From the famed Shaw Brothers studio in Hong Kong comes this film which is widely considered to be one of the greatest martial arts films of all time. Starring Gordon Liu, it tells the story of a young rebel who escapes from the brutal Manchu government, and seeks refuge at a Shaolin temple, where he hope to learn kung fu in order to get revenge on the slaughter of his friends and family. A highly influential film in the genre, 36th Chamber portrays the Shaolin training style in great and multi-layered detail. There would be several sequels to the orginal but none of them really reach the heights that this one does. If you're looking for an entry point into the world of martial arts films produced by Shaw Brothers, this would be a good start.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! - For those who don't know, this is actually a spoof of b-movies from the 1950s and 1960s. The title would alone would indicate that. Tomatoes become sentient for some unexplained reason and begin to attack mankind. There is some black comedy, there are some outdated stereotypes and even a few musical numbers. Made on a shoestring budget of $100,000, the movie grossed over $600,000 at the box office. When you can say your film made six times it's budget, you have a success. It spawned a small franchise that included three more films and an animated series that aired as part of the FOX Kids block in the 1990s. It's not a great film, by far, but it is quite humorous (depending on your feelings on insensitive jokes) and has developed a cult following.

The Astral Factor - This is a sci-fi thriller from the 1978 that has probably appeared on countless cheap box sets put out by companies like Mill Creek. A convicted murderer studies the paranormal in his jail cell and learns how to make himself invisible, making a prison escape pretty easy. He is out seeking revenge on the women who testified against him at his trial, killing them off one by one. The police, led by Robert Foxworth (probably best known for his time on Falcon Crest), are at a loss on how to catch him because...well, because he's invisible. The actual quality of the print on Amazon Prime is pretty poor, but if you manage to sit through it then the film ends up being a decent thriller.

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