Saturday 2 March 2019

Halliwell and Psychotronic dregs - 76

Michael (1924 - B/W) - German silent by Carl Dreyer and Thea Von Harbou, with Benjamin "Haxan" Christensen and in the lead role, an astonishingly young Walter Slezak. Not quite my thing. Attractive, arty gay love story.

The Bat Whispers (1930 - B/W) - Unusually stylised old dark house caper. Lots of visual variation for the era.

Night World (1932 - B/W) - Karloff in anticlimactic Busby Berkeley-choreographed crime quickie, featuring George Raft and Hedda Hopper.

The 13th Guest (1932 - B/W) - Another interchangeable policier with Ginger Rogers.

The Monster Walks (1932 - B/W) - Tiresome old dark house thing with Mischa Auer.

Night of Terror (1933 - B/W) - Primitive, campily performed Bela Lugosi in a turban quickie.

White Woman (1933 - B/W)- Confused jungle comedy. Charles Laughton seems to be playing  Harry Mudd from Star Trek.

Deluge (1933 - B/W) - Memorable effects enliven a tedious melodrama. With Sidney Blackmer decades before hailing Satan in Rosemary's Babba.

Gift of the Gab (1934- B/W) - Confused Universal variety show. See also the likes of International House.

The Black Room (1935 - B/W) - Handsomely mounted, unusually crisp Karloff melodrama.

The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935 - B/W) - Ambitious but primitive, oddly mondo-like independent production by Burroughs himself with Herman Brix/Bruce Bennett.

Murder by Television (1935 - B/W) - You skim through so many cheapies, they start to blend into one. This isn't as good as it sounds, despite Lugosi.

Life Returns (1935 - B/W) - Universal awkwardness about a dead dog being revived.

Crackup (1936 - B/W) - Typical 30s programmer, worth it for Peter Lorre as a mastermind disguised as a trumpet playing thickprick.

The Man Who Changed His Mind (1936 - B/W) - undistinguished Karloff quota quickie.

Dr Syn (1937 - B/W) - Rather genteel adaptation.

Miracles for Sale (1939- B/W) - Unsuspenseful melodrama/variety show with Robert Young, by Tod Browning.

The Devil's Daughter (1939 - B/W) - I'd never really watched "race films" before. And they are fascinating. Black crews and actors going out there making films for their own kind, knowing that the white establishment will never establish them. This does feature Nina Mae McKinney, well known enough to have her own special on the early BBC high-definition television service. Amateurish, hissy sound, but a definite curio.

Dark Eyes of London (1939) - Rather dull Edgar Wallace with Bela Lugosi in two roles, that ends quite suddenly.

I Was An Adventuress (1940 - B/W) - Adventure stifled by Vera Zorina's performance so it has to focus on Von Stroheim and Lorre.

Man Hunt (1941 - B/W) - Alienating noir drugdery set in an unconvincing London. Some of the London scenes are atmospheric, but it loses it when it enters countryside.

Hitler's Madman (1943 - B/W)- Douglas Sirk-directed propaganda, set in a ludicrous approximation of France, that resembles a Canadian frontier town, with a mix of cowboy hatted Americans and Frenchmen in Davy Crockett hats.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943 -B/W) - Not much of a fight, not much Frank. But then again, that's what happens when you cast a sixtysomething Bela Lugosi.

Bluebeard (1944  -B/W) - Hammy, shonky PRC period drama with John Carradine.

Scared to Death (1947) - The sole novelty of this Lugosi quickie is that is in colour, but weirdly the ending in its lightning predates Suspiria in style.

Golden Earrings (1947 B/W) - Milland and Dietrich black up as gypsies, like Topsy and Tom, except they don't lick the cocoa around their lips. Ludicrous lolloping about.

The Creeper (1948 - B/W) - Slow, boring, chintzy suspenser with Onslow Stevens.

King Solomon's Mines (1950) - Typical jungle adventure lifted by actual African locations, but otherwise plotless travelogue.

Man in the Attic (1953 - B/W) - Dowdy remake of the Lodger. Jack Palance looks like a teddy boy, as he torments Irish-born starlet/proto-Mrs. Bryan Forbes, Constance Smith.

The Maze (1953 - B/W) - Another dated straggler, set in Scotland, this castle caper is notable really only for the drunken frog monster-thing that lies in the titular topiary structure.

Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954 - B/W) - For a 50s B-movie, it feels like it is set in  a real corner of the world.

Violent Saturday (1955) - Not my sort of thing, but a well-made noir with a solid cast. Predates Witness in plot.

Journey To The Beginning of Time (1955) - A discovery! Flamingos, tigers, mammoths, crocs, dinosaurs, oh my! More proof Karel Zeman was one of the true FX geniuses of the 20th century.

Earth Vs The Spider (1957 - B/W) - Typical early 50s AIP junk.

Cat Girl (1957  B/W) - More early AIP tedium, an unauthorised British Cat People remake, with Barbara Shelley. Weird to see Jack May looking young.

Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957 - B/W) - You know a film is inaccurate when the nearest thing to an English accent belongs to ex Irish Republican Arthur Shields.

The World, the Flesh and The Devil (1959 - B/W) - Harry "Sidney Potter" Belafonte stars and sings in this post-apocalyptic multiracial love triangle with Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer. Unfortunately, it's much more of a 50s melodrama than a sci-fi.

Tormented (1960 - B/W) - Weak love triangle haunting by Bert I. Gordon. About a disembodied ex's head.

Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (1962 - B/W) - Almost no period detail, an English language cast dubbed with German accents, Dublin looking miserable, no real story... Christopher Lee was suitably angry.

The Cat Wore Sunglasses (1963) - Odd Czech children's comedy, a surrealist parade of people with a Ready Brek glow. Initially cloyingly charming, then goes mad. Stars Jan Werich, the Czech actor originally cast as Blofeld.

The Strangler of Blackwood Castle (1963) - Typical Edgar Wallace krimi, annoyingly quirky in its "English" perkiness.

Frozen Alive (1964 - B/W) - Depressing Anglo-German cryogenics suspenser.

A Tale of Lost Times (1964) - Alexander Ptushko's typical Soviet fairytale adap.

The Gorgon (1964) - Atmospheric and the calcification effects are fun but ruined by having a mystery that is a copout.

Variola Vera (1982) - Rade Serbedzjia and Peter Carsten in true-life dramatisation of a real life infection scenario in Belgrade, 1972. Lots of HAZMAT-suited goons. Like a medical soap crossed with the Crazies.

Return of Mr. Moto (1965 - B/W) - A cheap ITC-ish possibly-a-pilot with Henry Silva as a tough-talking, racially ambiguous Moto who talks with an American accent, but dresses up as a Lorre-ish velly solly Oriental as a disguise. Bland, free of action.

Rasputin The Mad Monk (1965) - It looks opulent, but it wastes a good cast, and doesn't know what it is. Is it a full-fledged historical drama, a horror, or something else?

Incubus (1966) - Baffling Esperanto horror, with William Shatner vs a goat.

Golden Bat (-1966 - B/W) - Delirious, well shot but confined Japanese superhero film with Sonny Chiba. Realised I already did this.

Majin, the Monster of Terror (1966) - The only difference in this samurai film is at least one samurai is a giant living statue. Ditto sequels Return of Giant Majin (1966) and Daimajin Strikes Again (1966).

Destination Inner Space (1966) - Undersea alien nonsense with Gary Merrill, and an excruciatingly racist caricature performance from James Hong as the chef who refers to himself in the third person.

Finders Keepers (1966) - The lost Cliff film. I can see why it is lost. Sub-Elvis movie.

Maneater of Hydra (1967) - Cameron Mitchell and a plant in incompetent Euroshocker.

The Hostage (1967) - Drudgery of a hostage thriller with  an astonishingly fresh-faced "Dean Stanton" and John Carradine, but the photography by Ted V Mikels  is nice, and makes it look more expensive than it was.

Cop Out (1967) - A sensationalist but rather muted thriller, starring James Mason, Geraldine Chaplin, Bobby Darin (sadly not played by Kevin Spacey in a ton of makeup and a bad wig), Paul Beroya (a Canadian actor who was clearly intended to be something, considering his roles in this and the ludicrous-looking Hot Rods to Hell and as Raul Castro in Che!), but eventually found himself in a mix of ITC shows and Larry Buchanan tripe, and the likes of Ian Ogilvy, Tomorrow People ally Brian Stanyon, Clive Morton, James Hayter, Ivor Dean, Yootha Joyce... A weird not-quite-giallo based on a Georges Simenon story, melding middle-aged mystery with sub-Roger Corman youth antics.

Hour of the Wolf (1968 - B/W) - All Bergman looks the same to me.

The Bed Sititng Room (1969) - Wow. Rewatch, but still... It might be Richard Lester's best film that doesn't have the word Superman or II in the title.

Fraulein Doktor (1969) - De Laurentiis' WW1 Macaroni Combat epic starring Suzy Kendall, though expensive, still feels like typical Euroschlock. Despite the likes of Kenneth More, and a young Oliver Reed-ish Michael Elphick, before he got all bloated.

Darker Than Amber (1970) - Rather ITC-ish actioner with Rod Taylor. Nice action, and off-kilter feel. Feels curiously un-American, perhaps because of Suzy Kendall, Theodore Bikel and James Booth. But doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) - Typical bobbins giallo. Supposedly set in England, and unless it is Torquay, it's not very convincing.

Dear Dead Delilah (1972) - Abysmal, almost John Watersesque Nashville schlock with Agnes Moorehead, Michael Ansara, Will Geer and an electric wheelchair. Profil font alert.

The Final Programme (1973) - I like Fuest's Phibes films, but this is a mess. Graham Crowden should be higher billed. Jon Finch and Jenny Runacre aren't likeable. It feels indulgent, very Avengers-y, with all the weaknesses of the series. The plot is just an excuse for a runaround.

Hard Times (1975) - Unusually refined period outing for the era, Bronson and Coburn spar, for what it is, Walter Hill manages to make it work.

Vigilante Force (1976) - Kris Kristofferson made this the same year as A Star Is Born. A Gene Corman produced postWalking Tall vehicle for him and the lesser talented Jan Michael Vincent. It also has Bernadette Peters and Victoria Principal. Forgettable bar the climax where Kris fights hicks through a post apocalyptic ghost town landscape in a marching band outfit.

The Killer Inside Me (1976) - Atmospheric but aimless and overtly jubilantly-soundtracked Jim Thompson cowboy noir with Stacy Keach.

Nightmare In Blood (1977)  - Amateurish but incredibly interesting fan-made exploration about fan culture.

The Odd Job (1978) - A dire, confused attempt at both a solo venture for a lost looking Graham Chapman and a rare cinematic outing for Sir David Jason, who does significantly better with the material, and seems to be basically trying to be the next Sellers.

Fish Hawk (1979) - Typical Canadian family thing with Will Sampson, preachy thing about interracial friendship.
My Side of the Mountain (1969) is a better, if rather Disney-ish exploration of the Canadian wilderness.

The Humanoid (1979) -  A city called Metropolis, "Krypton metal", a Darth Vader manque, Corinne Clery dressed in white says "it's our only hope" while filing into into a robot, a wedge-shaped super-spaceship trundling across the screen, set design that mimics the Falcon,  scrolling opening credits. At least with other Star Wars knockoffs, they try to place some kind of deranged originality, be it clipper ships, druids or George Peppard drinking beer and singing Burl Ives songs. This is almost slavishly faithful to Star Wars and to a lesser extent, Superman, and even the odd original elements, Richard Kiel as a space merc who becomes a Hulk-like supermutant is derived from Frankenstein, Barbara Bach is Space Ingrid Pitt, the Tibetan kid with telekinetic Buddhist superpowers is a mini-Obi Wan... But for a film released by Columbia, with a relatively starry cast (five time Oscar nominee Arthur Kennedy blustering as a mad scientist), it's so blatant. That this never got a US release thanks to AIP being embarrassed of it explains why Lucas didn't blast the thing down with a lawsuit.

Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979) - Francesco Rosi film, basically just Gian Maria Volonte wandering about an Italian village.

Monstroid (1979) - The sheer ambition of the film despite its awfulness almost wins one over. And the design of the monster is interesting, even if the execution is ridiculous. At least it has a monster unlike Barracuda (1978), the most boring Jaws knockoff.

The Man With Bogart's Face (1980) - Despite an international cast, and Robert Sacchi both a dead ringer in voice and face for Bogie, this is dumb. It's not much  of a spoof, in fact at times forgets it is, and instead feels like a pilot for a slightly more Get Smart-type series. It feels cheap, the music feels televisual, the framing... Avoidable. Has Herbert Lom to tie it into the Pink Panther series it wants to be.

Terror Train (1980) - Hmm, a rather cramped, badly lit and unsuspenseful slasher. Though having the killer be undercover in drag is clever, and casting a drag queen a good choice, though it doesn't help the Uncanny Valley nature of the character.

Tried watching Blue Collar by Paul Schrader. But it gave me an headache.
Ditto King of Hearts with Alan Bates, which felt baffling and sentimental, in a kind of Cuckoo's Nest manner.

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