Castor’s Underrated Gems – Holocaust 2000 (1977)

The Chosen (1977) - IMDb

Holocaust 2000 (a.k.a. The Chosen) is usually disregarded as an Omen rip-off but it is much more prescient about the biblical apocalypse via ripped-from-the-headlines topics like thermonuclear power, a technocracy and the United States tampering with Middle East affairs. For certain, the Ennio Morricone score poaches the Latin chants from Jerry Goldsmith. Other than those overlaps and the ironically named Angel (Simon Ward) being the hellspawn of Satan, Holocaust 2000 isn’t lockstep in formulaic imitation.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The President’s Analyst (1967)

The President's Analyst (1967) - IMDb

Psychotherapy was almost an anomaly in the late 60’s when holistic healing and astrology were paramount. Now, the profession of introspection is more pertinent. The fly-on-the-wall sessions between Sidney (James Coburn) and his patients are quite tantalizing and often feel like a breach of the confidentiality clause. In order to obviate litigation from the government, covert organizations are camouflaged as the Federal Bureau of Regulation (FBR) and the Central Enquiries Agency (CEA).

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Sitting Target (1972)

Amazon.com: Sitting Target: Douglas Hickox, Oliver Reed, Jill St ...

In the eruptive, lurid Sitting Target, the inimitable Oliver Reed is an incretionary “animal in a cage” as Cockney convict Harry Lomart. He does push-ups from the pipes above his prison cell. Moreover, Harry is not an alpha male who will be cuckolded during his 15-year sentence. Edward Scaife’s ultrastylish cinematography partitions the reflections during an increasingly moribund conversation between Harry and his wife Pat (Jill St. John) like split-screen panels.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Replicant (2001)

Replicant (film) - Wikipedia

For a science-fiction gimmick dabbling in cloning and symbiotic mnemonic cortices, the most fatuous element is Van Damme’s Tommy Wiseau wig. The neonatal technology for cellular duplication is sketchy and preposterous. Is The Torch so notorious that the NSA would experiment with such a financially exorbitant gamble to pursue him? How can the replicant recollect the Torch’s home invasions via osmosis?

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Darker Than Amber (1970)

Darker Than Amber movie poster

Firstly, this Travis McGee test run deserves better than an infuscate, pixelated VHS-rip DVD which was the only outlet to watch this humdinger. Walter Hill’s Extreme Prejudice and Trancers also suffered from similar transfer issues. The nighttime scenes are borderline indecipherable but the soundtrack isn’t terribly waterlogged thankfully. Beware, the DVD version that runs 91 minutes, it excises the film’s infamously dropsical scuffle and displays chopping editing for scene buttons.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Dark of the Sun (1968)

Dark of the Sun and Other Lot (MGM, 1968). Posters (2) (40" X 60 ...

Jacques Loussier’s progressive score tipples through the ear canals with mischievousness. A rescue-mission-as-subterfuge-for-a-treasure-trove framework is practically a porcine genre unto itself but it is the Simba Rebellion (as opposed to World War II Europe) as a backdrop and the central mercenaries that carve out the differences. Australian juggernaut Rod Taylor fraternizes seamlessly with Jim Brown who is less avaricious than his companion since he semi-sarcastically remarks that Africa is “his country”.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Possession (1981)

Amazon.com: Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION (1981) UNCUT Special ...

Sometimes the phrase “I don’t know” can be the most crippling statement. The uncertainty can propel people to extremism. Ingeniously, Sam Neill’s Mark is a castoff from a John Le Carre espionage novel. Andrzej Zulawski swirls the camera around Neill and his increasingly paranoid eyes dilate with furor. Like a scene from a Pink Panther movie, the couple sit diagonally from each other in a restaurant while Mark’s male ego is shattered irrevocably.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – Spookies (1986)

An ark of the covenant from the 80’s that bypassed a DVD release and was mostly an object of misbegotten legend, Spookies has been varnished with immaculate care by Vinegar Syndrome. Firstly, the 4k print is monumental achievement for the company. The werecat in the trees isn’t bleached of moonglow. Most of what transpires on screen is obfuscating from a storytelling point-of-view. The production was mongrelized when the producers mandated new footage after the Twisted Souls cut was too bereft of gelatinous crawlers.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Cotton Club (1984)

Cotton Club (1984) Original One-Sheet Movie Poster - Original Film ...

Disclaimer – Review based on the Encore Edition.

When it comes to period recreation, Francis Ford Coppola had the clout to be retroactive back to 1930’s Harlem with painstaking authenticity. The Bamville Club and the flappers aren’t just tinseled scenery; they’re components to Coppola’s Dionysiac, swooning tribute to the buzz of jazz music.

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Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Hidden Fortress (1958)

The Hidden Fortress (1958) — True Myth Media

While it might not be latent among Kurosawa acolytes, The Hidden Fortress wasn’t a crossover export when it was released in the U.S. Despite its acclaim, it isn’t exulted alongside Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Rashomon as one of his masterworks. Which is a pity because it heralded two innovations for Kurosawa- Tohoscope widescreen photography and Perspecta directional sound.

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