It’s Not the Size that Counts (1974)

aka Percy’s Progress
Article 4596 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-3-2014
Directed by Ralph Thomas
Featuring Leigh Lawson, Elke Sommer, Denholm Elliott
Country: UK
What it is: Sex comedy

When a military plane carrying a chemical weapon explodes, the water systems of the world are infected with a chemical that causes the entire male population of the world to become impotent. The only exception is Percy, the recipient of the first penis transplant, and he becomes the target of several people who have use for his gifts.

Apparently, PERCY was popular enough to merit a sequel, and here it is. I’ve already reviewed that movie, and though I certainly didn’t find it a good movie, it did have a couple of things going for it – it actually made an attempt to transcend its exploitative theme, and it had some decent music from the Kinks. This movie has neither one of those going for it. Oh, it does have an impressive cast in some regards; it also features Judy Geeson, Vincent Price, Julie Ege, Milo O’Shea and Bernard Lee. But it never really becomes anything more than an endless parade of double entendres and sexploitation, and that wears thin very quickly. The drug rendering the whole world impotent does add to the fantastic content, but it’s largely there to give Percy a whole new set of adventures. All in all, this is pretty bad.

Impulse (1974)

IMPULSE (1974)
Article 4595 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-1-2014
Directed by William Grefe
Featuring William Shatner, Ruth Roman, Jennifer Bishop
Country: USA
What it is: Psycho killer movie

A disturbed man who developed homicidal tendencies after a traumatic childhood experience hooks up with a widow. The woman’s suspicious daughter discovers his homicidal tendencies, but no one will believe her.

I’ve never been one of those people who made a habit of seeing William Shatner as a bad actor given to hammy overacting, but then, I’ve never seen this movie before, either. In fact, this movie seems to mostly remembered for Shatner’s awful performance as the murderous psycho, and I have to admit that it’s as bad as they come. Nevertheless, I can see what he’s trying to do; underneath his usual facade, the character is basically still a scared little boy in a desperate situation, and he’s trying to tap into that. Unfortunately, his failure to physicalize this character with subtlety ends up making his performance unexpectedly and inappropriately comic, and the result is truly awful. Perhaps a more skilled director than William Grefe (who gave us STING OF DEATH, DEATH CURSE OF TARTU and STANLEY) might have found a way to keep his performance in check, but maybe not; I can only speculate. Certainly, the mostly lame script doesn’t help the situation any, and some of the scenes are pretty ludicrous (such as the chase scene through a car wash). About the only thing I like about the script is the way the final scene effectively and neatly circles back to the first scene; it’s easily the best thing about this movie, which will most likely be only remembered for what’s wrong with it.

Halloween with the New Addams Family (1977)

aka Halloween with the Addams Family
Article 4594 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-31-2014
Directed by David Steinmetz
Featuring John Astin, Jackie Coogan, Carolyn Jones
Country: USA
What it is: Revival of a sixties sitcom

The Addams family plans to celebrate Halloween with a “family members only” party, unaware that certain unscrupulous individuals intend to rob them of their fortune.

You know, there’s something depressing about the attempts made during the late seventies to revive TV shows from the sixties as TV-movies; even by TV-Movie standards, they come off as singularly lame. Maybe it was that some of these shows worked much better in a half-hour format than they did when stretched to three times that length. Maybe there was something about the writing from that period of time that had been lost during the seventies; the attempts to emulate the goofiness of that period seem forced and desperate. Still, I think the primary culprit was the fact that when you revive a successful TV series from the past, it’s already been somewhat pre-sold, and it’s therefore perceived as not really necessary to do a good job or put your best foot forward; people will watch it anyway. In this one, I know a great deal of the atmosphere is lost simply due to the fact that the original series was in black-and-white, and this revival was in color. The real problem, though, is it seems amateurish and clumsy, it too often relies on running gags from the original series (especially the “Trish, you spoke French” gag which is here run into the ground mercilessly), and it’s not very funny. The best thing about it is that most of the original cast is back, and sometimes they bend over backwards to accomplish this; of course they had to replace the actor and actress playing Wednesday and Pugsley, but they also bring back to original actor and actress playing older versions of those characters. Ted Cassidy steals what there is to steal here as Lurch, who gets the best gag here when he falls for one of the (male) criminals who comes to the party dressed as Little Bo-Peep. Apparently, this was supposed to be a pilot for the revival of the series, but I’m not surprised it didn’t accomplish that purpose.

Moonwolf (1959)

aka Zuruck aus dem Weltall, …und immer ruft das Herz
Article 4593 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-30-2014
Directed by Georges Friendland
Featuring Anneli Sauli, Carl Mohner, Helmut Schmid
Country: Finland / West Germany
What it is: Love story

A scientist is reluctant to send his pet dog (which is really a wolf) into outer space as part of an experiment. He tells the story of his relationship with the animal.

IMDB (as well as various other sources) classify this movie as Sci-Fi, and, insofar as the plot involves sending a wolf into outer space, I suppose it is. From a story perspective, however, this event serves as little more than a plot device; its purpose is to put the animal in a certain location so that the scientist finds himself resolving a romantic triangle plot that is the real center of the movie. And, like most romantic triangle plots, this one is pretty mundane, and anyone hoping to see actual shots of the dog in outer space will be sorely disappointed; the action in the movie remains stubbornly earthbound. There’s a certain curiosity value to the fact that most of the movie is set in Lapland and shot in location there, but it’s certainly not enough to save this movie from the doldrums. This one is quite disappointing.

Formula C-12 Beirut (1966)

aka Agent 505 – Todesfalle Beirut
Article 4592 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-28-2014
Directed by Manfred R. Kohler
Featuring Frederick Stafford, Genevieve Cluny, Chris Howland
Country: West Germany / Italy / France
What it is: Spyghetti

An Interpol agent is sent to Beirut to track down a four-fingered villain called The Shiek who has an evil plan to kill all off all of the city’s inhabitants.

There’s plenty of gadgetry to add to the science fiction content of this heaping helping of Eurospy, and the plot also seems outlandish enough to also add to the fantastic content. On the plus side, the movie has some good scenes and a sense of humor. On the minus side, the story is fairly predictable, the editing is rather confusing at times, and Ennio Morricone’s score (which mostly consists of an abrasive three-note theme that gets trotted out at tense moments) is more annoying than thrilling. Overall, it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill example of the genre, making it a passable but unmemorable time-killer. I do find it interesting, however, that a pivotal character in the movie shares the same name as the director.

The Two-Headed Giant (1939)

Article 4591 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-27-2014
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Voice actors unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Animated comic fairy tale

A two-headed giant comes down from his castle in the clouds to attack a kingdom on the ground. Jack the Giant Killer rides to the rescue.

In my recent run of cartoons, this is my third foray into the world of Terrytoons, and it’s easily the best of the three. The animation is much more fluid, the music actually contributes to the action, and there are moments that are downright clever. Of the latter, I quite like, for example, a gag in which the giant tries to walk while one of its heads is still asleep, but can’t get half of his body to work because of it; it’s the type of gag that indicates a little inspiration and thought were going on, and they weren’t just sleepwalking through the creation of this. Still, most of the cartoon is on the ordinary side, and the cartoon is practically over by the time that Jack shows up. Nevertheless, this is one of the better cartoons I’ve seen from this studio.

Spook Sport (1939)

Article 4590 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-26-2014
Directed by Mary Ellen Bute, Norman McLaren, Ted Nemeth
No voice cast
Country: USA
What it is: Arty graveyard dance

It’s midnight, and the ghosts rise from their graves and cavort.

Here we have another cartoon, but this one is somewhat different from the ones I’ve been seeing recently; this one is an experimental art film combining music and animation into a ballet of sorts. I’ve seen some of these before, and most of them I cover because the abstraction of the animation places them somewhat into the category of fantasy. However, this one has a definite horror theme and setting; the shapes represent ghosts and bats cavorting through a graveyard to the tune of “Danse macabre”. In some ways, this is merely a more abstract version of the various “skeleton dance” cartoons that were popular during the thirties, several of which I’ve also covered. Nonetheless, the presence of a definite theme and the fact that the abstract shapes often take on recognizable forms appropriate to the theme make this one one of the more accessible of the abstract musical cartoons I’ve seen; it would fit in nicely in a collection of more conventional Halloween cartoons. I quite liked this one.