(Investigator 126, 2009 May)


Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide has 17,000-movie summaries on 1519 pages with ratings from "BOMB" to four stars.

I consulted Leonard Maltin after checking the movie section of The Weekend Australian and reading: "Underworld (2003) A beautiful werewolf-slaying vampire finds her allegiances tested after falling for a werewolf."

Many people enjoy movies with whose characters, stories or themes they can identify. But how many beautiful, werewolf-slaying vampires with tested allegiance because of falling for a werewolf have you met?

Such a story I suspected deserved a thumbs-down. So I consulted Leonard Maltin to find out for sure.

Leonard Maltin's rating system contains seven categories which, from best to worst, are:

****         ***1/2      ***         **1/2      **         *1/2         BOMB.

Of the 17,000 movies over 600 are BOMBs including 32 in just the "A" entries. Alligator II: The Mutation (1991), for example, is "Lame-brained and dreary."

Maltin gives Underworld two stars whereas my evaluation was BOMB. Maltin rates Paparazzi (2004), which he describes as "odious, self righteous revenge thriller", a Bomb whereas I gave it **1/2.

We agree, however, on *1/2 for The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant (1971). Maltin's write-up says: "The head of an insane murderer is attached to the head of a mental retardate. Which head made this film?" I considered it worth *1/2 rather than BOMB for the scene where the two-heads, each controlling one arm, fight and throw punches at each other.

The total number of post silent-era movies made by movie studios exceeds 100,000. I was told this without confirmation. Many movies therefore are not listed in Leonard Maltin's. Nevertheless the book will often be useful when deciding whether to watch TV or go to bed.

If we assume that the average full-time employee's working week is 40 hours and that the average movie without commercials is 1 1/2 hours long then Mr Maltin worked 13 years full-time to watch the 17,000 movies in his book! After that he had to write them all up!

This useful reference book and the hard work that went into it will help you avoid many BOMBs. My 2007 edition was purchased new and cost only $24.