The Christmas Martian (1971)

THE CHRISTMAS MARTIAN (1971)
aka Le martien de Noel
Article 2930 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-16-2009
Posting Date: 8-22-2009
Directed by Bernard Gosselin
Featuring Marcel Sabourin, Catherine Leduc, Francois Gosselin
Country: Canada

A Martian comes to a small town in Quebec. Children encounter him. Adults are flabbergasted. Hilarity ensues.

Yesterday’s movie was a children’s movie. Today’s is also. Yesterday’s movie had a rating of 8.0 on IMDB. This one has a rating of 3.5 on IMDB. The user comments on yesterday’s movie were full of glowing comments on how much the viewers remembered and loved the movie as a kid. The user comments on today’s movie are… also full of glowing comments on how much viewers remembered and loved the movie as a kid, albeit ones in which there is a knowing sense that a rewatching will prove disappointing. But the affection is there nonetheless.

Now, by any regular standards, this movie is atrocious; in fact, it’s probably the worst Christmas movie I’ve seen for this series (though I do know of at least one movie that I haven’t covered yet that is even worse). It has no plot; it’s just a set of comic setpieces, mostly with the alien (who looks for all the world like a homeless person in a bizarre mask) either flabbergasting adults or playing with children. The special effects may be a hair better than those of SANTA CLAUS CONQUERS THE MARTIANS, but the other movie is better; you can at least sing along with the theme song, which is more than you can do with the horrid number that closes this movie. Yet, still, I’m impressed that even a movie like this can win the hearts and affections of those who remember seeing it in their youth. So what does that tell us? I think it says something about the power of movies and the way it can play with the imagination of our youth; even something like this can tap into our childlike view of the world and bring joy to our lives. Somehow, it just makes me glad that movies exist – even the bad ones. So let’s let this movie stand as a tribute to that power.

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Child of Glass (1978)

CHILD OF GLASS (1978)
TV-Movie
Article 2929 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-15-2009
Posting Date: 8-21-2009
Directed by John Erman
Featuring Barbara Barrie, Biff McGuire, Anthony Zerbe
Country: USA

A young boy is visited by a ghost and given a task; he’s supposed to unravel the secret of a riddle or be haunted for the rest of his life.

This movie has a rating of 8.0 on IMDB, and this prompted me to check out the user comments. Practically every glowing review of this TV-Movie tells the same story; the viewer saw it as a child and it made a lasting impression on them. I can definitely see this happening; in fact, it would probably prove particularly effective on girls of a certain age. Watching it for the first time as an adult male approaching his fifties, I’m less impressed; I could care less about all the fooferaw about the authentic antebellum party the mother wants to put on (and would advise them that they’d actually want to capture the feel of plantation life “before” the civil war than “at the time of”) and I find something annoying about the ghost having the hero try to figure out an impenetrable poem instead of just telling him she wants to be reunited with her doll. My worst problem, though, is with the movie’s attempt at a southern atmosphere; though the locations are authentic enough, the accents used by most of the cast sound forced and unconvincing; only Anthony Zerbe really sounds natural to my ears. Still, these problems wouldn’t bother a child one whit, and, though it may be a little dated for today’s children, they’d be the ones who would appreciate it most

Bog (1983)

BOG (1983)
Article 2928 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2009
Posting Date: 8-20-1009
Directed by Don Keeslar
Featuring Gloria DeHaven, Aldo Ray, Marshall Thompson
Country: USA

A monster has been awakened from the local lake, and it’s searching for human females so it can breed.

This cheap and rather goofy movie is like a throwback to the cheapies from the fifties and sixties; at one time or another, I found myself comparing it to ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES, DESTINATION INNER SPACE and BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. The monster is a hoot, and the cast of familiar old-timers (Gloria DeHaven, Aldo Ray, Marshall Thompson and Leo Gordon) just adds to the quaintness of the whole affair. The dialogue is often hilarious; my favorite line is “We’ll get the fire department. They’ve got hoses. They’ll spray anything. ” It also has a ludicrous script and truly amateurish editing. It’s also shot in Wisconsin, which, to horror movie fans, could be called Bill Rebane country, but I find this one a lot more cuddly than any of Rebane’s movies. All in all, this is one of the more entertaining stinkers I’ve seen.

Blood Bath (1976)

BLOOD BATH (1976)
Article 2927 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2009
Posting Date: 8-19-2009
Directed by Joel M. Reed
Featuring Harve Presnell, Jack Somack, Curt Dawson
Country: USA

The cast of a horror film tell each other scary stories one night. In the first, a hit man has a job go awry. In the second, a man tries to get rid of his wife with a coin that grants wishes. In the third, a ghost decides to haunt the man who was responsible for his death. In the fourth, a martial arts expert must face a final challenge when he betrays his promise not to use his powers for money. In the wraparound story, it turns out the director of the horror film has a secret of his own…

Director Joel Reed is primarily famous for having given us BLOODSUCKING FREAKS, a paean to the exploitation, torture and murder of women that is as mean-spirited as it is incompetent. I feel sorry for any fans of that movie searching this one out in the hopes of getting more of the same; its PG rating should be warning enough that this is going to be mild stuff indeed. It’s no where near as nasty, it’s not one-tenth as misogynistic, and it’s even somewhat more competent. It’s not “bloodless” as some people claim; there’s a little blood, but you’d probably find more in your average Hammer horror movie. It’s worst problem is that it’s rather tired and uninspired. Perhaps the most surprising thing to me, though, was that I actually thought one of the stories was pretty good; the story about the ghost of the black man who decides to haunt the skinflint who caused his death (a series of circumstances brought about by the skinflint repossessing the ghost’s car) is actually amusing enough that I wish the presentation was better. This story even has one of the better twist endings here; the rest of them are rather obvious.

Santo vs el estrangulador (1965)

SANTO VS EL ESTRANGULADOR (1965)
aka Santo vs the Strangler
Article 2926 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-12-2009
Posting Date: 8-18-2009
Directed by Rene Cardona
Featuring Santo, Alberto Vazquez, Maria Duval
Country: Mexico

Someone is strangling actresses at a theater. It is up to Santo to discover the killer’s identity.

In the first twenty minutes of this film, we have one murder, two wrestling scenes, and five songs. When the padding gets this dense, I can only marvel. It settles into the plot after that, but maybe I should be grateful for the padding; after all, it’s easier to enjoy the music and the wrestling in an undubbed, unsubtitled movie than it often is to enjoy the plot, which becomes difficult to follow. Besides, one of the numbers is obviously a Spanish language version of “Fever”, and their version of “Sixteen Tons” is actually sung in English. There’s a hunchback on hand, and Santo’s lab has lots of gadgetry, which adds to the fantastic content in this PHANTOM OF THE OPERA-style thriller. And it’s good to see that Santo has taken to tucking his cape into the car when he goes cruising around in the Santomobile rather than letting it run the risk of being caught in the tires.

La ragazza di latta (1970)

LA RAGAZZA DI LATTA (1970)
aka The Tin Girl
Article 2925 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-11-2009
Posting Date: 8-17-2009
Directed by Marcello Aliprandi
Featuring Roberto Antonelli, Sydne Rome, Elena Persiani
Country: Italy

In the future, an eccentric executive becomes enamored with a mysterious girl.

Well, here’s a different way to watch an Italian comedy – with no subtitles and dubbed into Spanish. Furthermore, it’s one of those somewhat arty late-sixties-early-seventies features that is full of bizarre scenes that make me suspect that, even if my copy had had subtitles, I would have had trouble following it. Still, that very strangeness made it a little more watchable; despite the fact that the plot remained murky to me (I only got as much as I did from plot descriptions from various other sources), I enjoyed some of the visuals, such as a wall of photographs in which our protagonist has glued his own head in the places of the ones in the pictures, and scenes of gold knight roller-skating. It’s weird enough that I doubt that I’d agree with the assessment by the review in “The Motion Picture Guide” as a “one-joke” premise, but it will have to wait until I can say for sure. At any rate, even had I not read that it takes place in the future, the presence of androids would have made the fantastic content fairly clear to me.

Die, Monster, Die! (1965)

DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965)
Article 2924 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-10-2009
Posting Date: 8-16-2009
Directed by Daniel Haller
Featuring Boris Karloff, Nick Adams, Freda Jackson
Country: UK / USA

An American finds himself coldly received when he arrives at a small English town to visit his girlfriend. He discovers that her family has some dreadful secrets that involve a meteorite that landed in the area.

This was another early attempt at adapting H.P. Lovecraft to the big screen (in this case, the story “The Colour Out of Space”), and though it is far better than THE DUNWICH HORROR, it’s a lot weaker than THE HAUNTED PALACE. It’s biggest problem is a very weak script, which mostly consists of a recycling of cliches, mostly from the Corman Poe movies. On the plus side, it does have two strong actors in the center, with Boris Karloff and Nick Adams both doing what they can to salvage the weaknesses. It especially fails at giving us a sense of Lovecraftian horror; its best moment here is when Adams finds an assortment of mutated creatures in the back of a greenhouse, but the scene is too brief to make a lasting impression, and suffers from weak special effects. Poor pacing and lots of dead spots also harm the movie. This was Daniel Haller’s first directorial effort; he was involved in some capacity with practically every cinematic Lovecraft adaptation of the era.