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Capsule Reviews: Starcrash

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses.

Luigi Cozzi's space opera Starcrash (1978)is one of the most entertaining entries in a genre that was red-hot in the immediate aftermath of Star Wars. It's a cult classic for a reason, proudly flaunting its gonzo spacesploitation style with maximum gusto at every turn. Cozzi also enthusiastically flaunts the assets of 1970s sci-fi/horror/fantasy queen Caroline Munro. She captivates, as rough and tumble intergalactic smuggler Stella Star—one of the great heroines in exploitation cinema.
When she isn't determinedly staring into space as if contemplating the great mysteries of the universe, Munro runs around in an outfit consisting of a bikini top with a vampire cloak collar on it—space fashion is avant-garde, y'all. Intensely strange '70s actor Marjoe Gortner tags along as Stella's faithful sidekick Akton. After they're arrested by the Imperial Space Police, we're treated to a full-on space women in prison interlude…
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Capsule Reviews: Jane Fonda's Workout

Quick-hit movie* reviews for the masses.

*This one isn't technically a movie, but it is the best-selling VHS tape in history, so let's do this.

For decades now, Jane Fonda has been an American cultural icon. We can partially chart the evolution of American popular culture over the last five or six decades through Fonda's various and disparate phases—from beautiful 1960s ingenue, to interstellar sex goddess in Barbarella, to controversial 1970s anti-war activist, to an advocate for working women via the film 9 to 5, and on and on. There's an article to be written about this, "The Jane Phenomenon," but that's for another time. For now, let's just bask in one of her most curious and culturally significant phases, as the 1980s aerobics queen in Workout (1982).

Workout certainly helped usher in the '80s fitness boom. That's the star power of Jane Fonda in action. Today, it's almost impossible to properly contextualize the monumental popularity of…

Capsule Reviews: The Neon Ceiling

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses.

The 1970s produced an exceptional number of smart, thoughtful dramas about women breaking free of troubled relationships (like Barbara Loden's Wanda) and, usually with a kid or two in tow (like Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore), embarking on a journey of self discovery. The 1971 American television movieThe Neon Ceiling is one of the best of the bunch, thanks in no small part to the legendary Lee Grant, as a mother running away from crushing suburban languor—and an appallingly indifferent husband—and taking her young daughter along for the ride.

With no destination in mind, mother and child (played by Denise Nickerson) stop off at a remote gas station and wind up sticking around longer than expected. There they form a tentative, uneasy relationship with the station's eccentric and lonely owner, played with unnerving intensity by Gig Young—only seven years before the actor killed his wife and then took his own life …

"His Vision Changed Everything": Rest in Power, John Singleton

In the aftermath of filmmaker John Singleton's death at the age of 51 earlier this week, tributes to the man and his work poured in on social media. Friends, family, colleagues, critics, and fans, all paying respect to the writer-director-producer whose films—from Boyz n The Hood (1991) to Poetic Justice (1993) to Higher Learning (1995) and beyond—changed their lives. One such tribute came from another Black writer-director-producer, Jordan Peele, who tweeted simply, but powerfully, "RIP John Singleton. So sad to hear. John was a brave artist and a true inspiration. His vision changed everything."

That's the legacy Singleton leaves behind—a cinematic vision that helped bring real, honest-to-goodness representation to the screen for Black audiences, at a time when this was all too rare. In fact, he and Spike Lee—whose Do the Right Thing had lit the cultural Zeitgeist on fire just two years before Boyz—ushered in a truly incredible era for Black films made by and for

Bea Arthur and Angela Lansbury: Just Being Their Best Selves

As depressing and infuriating as it often is around the internet, now and then it manages to redeem itself and bring a big ole smile to your face.

Case in point: A while back, I stumbled on a killer meme of Bea Arthur (may she rest in power) and Angela Lansbury (still rockin' in her '90s), just hanging out at an awards show, being effortlessly amazing together.

While I have no idea what was actually happening when these photos were snapped at the 41st Emmy Awards in 1989—although part of me really hopes Bea's rolling her eyes at that smarmy hunk on the left—I'm happy to report that it's easily one of the coolest thing on the internet. Ever. It captures a wonderful moment between two legends. Note how Bea and Angela look off in the distance in the first shot, almost identical "WTF" expressions on their faces. Then, in the second, glorious shot, they show us youngsters what it really means to throw shade. Epic.

If these moments in time don't make your …

Capsule Reviews: Dressed to Kill

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses. Okay, so this one isn't exactly a "quick-hit" review, but it's hard to stop gushing about this masterpiece.

It's almost astonishing to realize now, but at the height of his powers in the 1970s through the 1980s, Brian De Palma was rarely recognized as the cinematic genius we now know him to be. Look at the murder's row of films he made—all in a row!—in the 1970s alone: Sisters (1972), Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Obsession (1976), Carrie (1976), The Fury (1978), and Home Movies (1979). Then he kicked off the 1980s with Dressed to Kill (1980), followed by Blow Out (1981), Scarface (1983), and Body Double (1984). Outstanding! Not a dud among them, in what has to be one of the great ten-film runs by any director in history.

With Dressed to Kill, De Palma proved how wrong critics' recycled, snarky "Hitchcock" ripoff remarks were—he was an auteur of the highest order, a descendant of Hitchcock, sure, but an …

Capsule Reviews: The Devil Within Her

Quick-hit movie reviews for the masses.
How come nobody told me about this bonkers British horror flick before??
The Devil Within Her (1975), otherwise known as I Don't Want to Be Born, also known as The Monster, is, to put it mildly, highly entertaining. The plot: a sultry Dame Joan Collins is a former dancer (of the exotic variety) who marries a filthy rich (and utterly clueless) Italian, then gives birth to what might be a demon child possessed by the spirit of the angry dwarf whose affections she spurned previously. Normal stuff, really.

It also stars Donald Pleasance as Joan's doctor! He drinks a lot of tea and doesn't seem at all concerned about this demon baby thing. 1970s genre bombshell Caroline Munro breezes through the film like a fashion model on her way to another shoot. If you think babies are cute—and who doesn't, really?—this film might change your mind. It's one of the loopiest entries in the 1970s "fear of motherhood" cinema craze. The Brit…