Los Canallas (1968)

LOS CANALLAS (1968)
aka The Scoundrels
Article 2298 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-11-2007
Posting Date: 11-27-2007
Directed by Federico Curiel
Featuring Mil Mascaras, Regina Tome, Manolo Munoz

A wrestler must contend with an evil woman and an escaped convict who wants to wrestle him.

Once again I find myself contending with a Mexican wrestler movie in Spanish without the benefit of dubbing or subtitles, so many of the plot details are lost on me. The above plot description is vague and may be inaccurate, but that’s what I got out of it. The wrestler this time is Mil Mascaras, whose name means “Man of 1000 Masks”, and though he doesn’t wear a thousand during the length of the movie, he changes masks frequently; as a real-life wrestler, he apparently never wrestled in the same mask twice. For what it’s worth, he certainly seems to be in better shape than Santo. The only fantastic content I was able to notice was a voodoo ceremony in the middle of the movie, though I suspect it really doesn’t have much of an effect on the plot. And for fans of the wrestling, there’s four matches during the course of the movie. And if you prefer musical numbers to wrestling scenes, you can always go for a Neutron movie instead.

 

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Cauldron of Blood (1970)

CAULDRON OF BLOOD (1970)
aka El Coleccionista de cadaveres
Article 2297 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-9-2007
Posting Date: 11-26-2007
Directed by Santos Alcocer
Featuring Jean-Pierre Aumont, Boris Karloff, Viveca Lindfors

A writer and a model in Spain visit a sculptor and his wife, unaware of their dreadful secret; the wife is killing people in order to get skeletons to provide the armatures for the sculptor’s creations.

Out of curiosity, I went to Karloff’s listing on IMDB and did a rating sort to see how close to the bottom it was sitting. For the record, it was third from the bottom, only beating out ISLE OF THE SNAKE PEOPLE and THE GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI. Also, two of Karloff’s final Mexican movies actually rated better. At heart, I’m not surprised. I’d seen this one years ago on my local Creature Feature, and the only thing I remembered about it was about ten seconds towards the end of the movie where we find Karloff’s fate. Watching it now, I know why; this may be one of Karloff’s dullest outings. Actually, he’s barely in it; most of the movie is more concerned with the lives of a group of arty types in Spain, and they are a singularly uninteresting lot. We know the truth about the skeletons early on in the proceedings, and once it is revealed, there is nothing more in the way of surprises. I suppose some people might find some interest in the obsession with Nazism and sadism of Viveca Lindfor’s character, but to my mind, the only thing those scenes really add to the movie is running time, and the movie is way too long as it is. It’s much better made than his Mexican outings, but in terms of holding my interest, those Mexican movies have this one beat. Depressing.

 

The Borrowers (1973)

THE BORROWERS (1973)
Article 2296 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-8-2007
Posting Date: 11-25-2007
Directed by Walter C. Miller
Featuring Eddie Albert, Tammy Grimes, Judith Anderson

A family of tiny people who live under the floorboards of a Victorian mansion find their home in danger when their existence is discovered by a little boy.

This TV movie was based on a children’s book by Mary Norton. I’ve not read the book, so I can’t say how true it is to the story, but I’m afraid that this movie didn’t really do much for me. Part of the problem is that the TV-Movie budget didn’t really allow for the special effects to really effectively tell the story. It certainly doesn’t help that the movie features cutesy songs by Rod McKuen. Still, there are some nice touches here and there; I like the relationship between Pod (the father of the tiny family) and Aunt Sophy (the matriarch of the human family); he visits her when she’s had a bit too much to drink, so nobody believes her story of a little man. It also has a fairly exciting ending when a ferret is sent loose under the floorboards to catch the small family. Judith Anderson is a lot of fun as Aunt Sophy, but Eddie Albert plays his father character a little too broadly for my tastes. Overall, I wasn’t too impressed with either the script or the acting. It’s watchable, but could have been a lot better.

 

Blood (1974)

BLOOD (1974)
Article 2295 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-7-2007
Posting Date: 11-24-2007
Directed by Andy Milligan
Featuring Allan Berendt, Hope Stansbury, Patricial Gaul

The son of the Wolf Man and the daughter of Dracula rent a house and terrorize the neighbors with the help of a room of carnivorous plants.

This is the third of the Andy Milligan films I’ve seen, and with it, I’m beginning to get a feel for the Andy Milligan viewing experience. It starts out leaving the impression that it’s going to be a bit better than it is, thanks to the fairly quick pace. But then you start to notice the problems; the acting seems rushed (most likely because Milligan has more story than can easily fit on the amount of footage he had to play with), which results in the inability to establish anything in the way of mood or atmosphere. The acting is highly variable, from the competent to the gratingly bad. The sound is terrible; during many of the scenes of this movie, the dialogue is upstaged by a sound like someone rubbing their body against a squeaky vinyl chair. The period costumes only underline the fact that there is simply no period feel to the proceedings, and one gets the feeling all the characters are playing some kind of game of dress-up. The makeup is often queasily bad. His treatment of animals is abominable; this time, a mouse in a trap is dismembered with a cleaver before your eyes, and there’s little doubt that a real mouse was killed for the scene. Once again, the overall experience is unpleasant and headache-inducing; it’s the antithesis of fun. IMDB lists the running time at 74 minutes, but my print seems short of about fifteen of them, but I highly doubt the presence of them would improve the movie much. That’s Andy Milligan for you.

 

The Aliens Are Coming (1980)

THE ALIENS ARE COMING (1980)
TV-Movie
Article 2294 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-6-2007
Posting Date: 11-23-2007
Directed by Harvey Hart
Featuring Tom Mason, Eric Braeden, Max Gail

An alien spaceship lands on earth and the aliens on board start taking possession of various people.

Was this TV-Movie an attempt to make a pilot for a new version of the Roy Thinnes series, “The Invaders”? One of the working titles for this one was THE NEW INVADERS. I can find no evidence that this actually was a pilot, but it certainly looks like it, what with its open-ended ending and the hint that the heroes plan to continue fighting the aliens. If it was a pilot, it’s just as well that it didn’t make it to a series; our lead hero is supposed to be witty and cute, but I found him dumb and annoying, and the listless direction and a weak script (co-scripted by Herschell Gordon Lewis, of all people) destroy any chance of suspense and excitement. Max Gail was a member of the cast of “Barney Miller”, but, given that his character spends most of the movie possessed by an alien that makes him emotionless, it’s hard to judge his performance here. The cast also features Ed Harris.

 

Zardoz (1974)

ZARDOZ (1974)
Article 2293 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-5-2007
Posting Date: 11-22-2007
Directed by John Boorman
Featuring Sean Connery, Charlotte Rampling, Sara Kestelman

In the future, a savage infiltrates a society of immortals in an attempt to find a way for his fellow savages to break through the barrier.

This is the type of movie where I love to go to IMDB and check the movie’s user ratings. Generally, if you discard the top and bottom ratings (this eliminates that large group of people who give extreme good and bad ratings to everything), you get the classic bell curve, with the peak pointing to a general critical consensus of the movie. Though the bell curve is there for this one (and it peaks somewhere between six and seven), the number of votes for each level of the rating scale is quite high, which means that this movie gets a large variety of reactions from those that view it. I fully expected this; it’s one of those movies that could elicit a different reaction from me each time I see it.

As for me, I just don’t know how I feel about this movie. It’s nowhere near as bad as some of the reviews I’ve read would lead me to believe, but it’s no classic either. At heart, I think the movie is unnecessarily arty and self-indulgent; the basic premise of the movie (that immortality may well prove to be a painful burden rather than a boon) actually seems simple enough that I don’t think it required this level of artiness. Yet, some of those arty scenes are quite compelling, and I suspect that the movie just wouldn’t be the same without them. So, in short, I don’t know. To anyone who is curious about this one, I’d say to give it a shot; it just may be the right movie for you. You could also hate it. Or you could hate it one moment and love it the next. It’s just one of those types of movies.

 

Trog (1970)

TROG (1970)

Article 2292 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-4-2007
Posting Date: 11-21-2007
Directed by Freddie Francis
Featuring Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, Bernard Kay

An anthropologist discovers a troglodyte hidden in a cave. She wants to experiment with it, but suspicious villagers fear it and want it destroyed, especially as it has already killed one student.

This movie’s reputation is such that one would believe that, in watching this movie, one is going to see the worst, campiest movie ever made. Well, I’ve seen worse and I’ve seen campier; BERSERK is certainly a lot campier, even if it is overall a somewhat better movie. This one is merely a tired compendium of cliches, with a particularly wretched script; I suspect it would just be discarded as a bad movie and forgotten if Joan Crawford hadn’t been in it. From my point of view, Crawford wisely underplays what she must have known was an awful part; there was very little she could do with the role to begin with. I think she comes off better than Michael Gough; though Gough is an excellent actor, I’ve never cared much for his performances when he took on bad-tempered acid-tongued sadists, and he’s in that mode all the time here, and it renders his character so that it comes across as even more one-dimensional than it was already written. The rest of it is monster-on-the-loose by-the-numbers, the sort of thing that yesterday’s movie (SCHLOCK ) was sending up. This is probably the least interesting of Herman Cohen’s forays into horror.