Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)

MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1968)
Article 2739 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-5-2008
Posting Date: 2-11-2009
Directed by Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero
Featuring John Ashley, Angelique Pettyjohn, Ronald Remy
Country: USA / Philippines

Travelers come to an island where people are being killed off by a strange green monster.

This was the second of the “Blood Island” trilogy; I don’t know if there’s a direct connection to the first, BRIDES OF BLOOD, but the follow-up, BEAST OF BLOOD is definitely a sequel. Fans of gimmick marketing will certainly be charmed by the opening, in which the audience is told to drink the green blood that they received when they came to see the movie; this is supposed to protect them from becoming green-blooded monsters. Fans of bloody mayhem will be satisfied by this one; the attacks are truly gruesome and gory, making the sequel seem rather anemic by comparison. The non-English-speaking actors aren’t well dubbed, but it doesn’t really matter; the English-speaking actors don’t exactly rack up the best actor nominations either. It’s kind of fun in that sleazy drive-in sense, but I found the annoying camera tricks whenever the monster shows up (we get rapid zoom-in-zoom-out-zoom-in-zoom-out-etc. effects) is almost nauseating, and not in a fun way. There’s also a fair amount of nudity to add to the gore, including a nude love-making scene with Angelique Pettyjohn and John Ashley. It’s intermittently fun but intermittently disappointing as well.

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Mickey’s Gala Premier (1933)

MICKEY’S GALA PREMIER (1933)
Animated Short
Article 2738 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-4-2008
Posting Date: 2-10-2009
Directed by Burt Gillett
Featuring the voices of Walt Disney and Marcellite Garner
Country: USA

A plethora of Hollywood movie stars comes out to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to see the premier of Mickey Mouse’s latest movie.

If you set aside for the moment the cartoon convention of talking animals, the fantastic content of this one is slight; among the audience members we have the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula and Mr. Hyde. Still, anyone who loves movies from the era will have a treat here, as we get a dizzying array of caricatures of stars from the period, including the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Joe E. Brown, Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Mae West, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante…. I could just go on. The antics of the audience are the real attraction here; the Mickey Mouse cartoon they watch (a movie within a movie) is fairly ordinary, though it does feature Mickey riding an odd array of beasties in his chase to rescue Minnie from Pegleg Pete. Actually, it would be fun to put together an animated anthology of cartoons that featured caricatures of great movie stars; I know Warner Brothers put out several cartoons over the years that feature that format. Great fun.

Interplanetary Revolution (1924)

INTERPLANETARY REVOLUTION (1924)
aka Mezhplanetnaya revolyutsiya

Animated short
Article 2737 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-3-2008
Posting Date: 2-9-2009
Directed by Nikolai Khodataev, Zenon Komissarenko, Youry Merkulov
No cast
Country: Soviet Union

A Soviet hero goes to Mars to save the Martians from evil capitalists.

The Don Willis guide describes this short animated film from the Soviet Union as a parody of AELITA, and maybe it is. However, I can’t really find anything parodistic in its tone, and, given the fact that Soviet filmmakers were not allowed freedom of expression, you’re not going to find much in the way of a different message here. Animation-wise, it’s reminiscent of Terry Gilliam, only without the humor; it’s mostly grotesque portrayals of certain capitalistic stereotypes doing their evil capitalist things, such as sucking the blood of the workers. Plotwise, I found it nearly impossible to follow; I guess telling a coherent story wasn’t really high on the priorities of this one. Nonetheless, the bizarre animation and imagery do make it watchable, and it is interesting from a historical perspective. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russian people would really have rather watched a Felix the Cat cartoon.

The Lost Continent (1968)

THE LOST CONTINENT (1968)
Article 2736 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-2-2008
Posting Date: 2-8-2009
Directed by Michael Carreras and Leslie Norman
Featuring Eric Porter, Hildegard Knef, Suzanna Leigh
Country: UK

When a boat carrying a deadly load of explosives is caught in the fury of a hurricane, the crew and passengers must abandon it. Their lifeboat is trapped in the Sargasso Sea, where they have to deal with monsters and Spanish conquistadors who have been trapped there for ages.

This must have been an ambitious undertaking for Hammer studios, what with the challenge of portraying the world of the Sargasso Sea on what must have been a small budget. Certainly, some of the monsters that appear are less than convincing; a battle between a giant crab and a giant scorpion in particular is laughable in this regard. Still, these sequences could have been forgiven had the story been compelling, but, unfortunately, the story is a mess. The movie should have gotten to the Sargasso Sea a lot earlier in the movie than it does, and then focused on the storyline about the Spanish conquistadors; unfortunately, the first half of the movie gets mired in the various problems of the passengers and crew aboard the ship, most of which aren’t particularly interesting in the first place, and we know most of them will be solved by having a character die at a certain part of the story, or be left forgotten at the end of the movie. When it finally does get to the conquistador storyline, it is rushed and poorly developed, and after a while, the whole movie feels like a series of random events than a story. On the plus side, the acting is decent, the women are attractive, and the movie is quite colorful; the score, however (which seems to emphasize cheesy organ music) is just too odd. The most memorable thing about the movie is its sheer strangeness, especially with the visions of men walking on the Sargasso sea with giant inflated shoes and balloons to buoy them up. All it really needed was a strong story told well.

Kiss Me, Kill Me (1973)

KISS ME, KILL ME (1973)
aka Baba Yaga
Article 2735 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-1-2008
Posting Date: 2-7-2009
Directed by Corrado Farina
Featuring Carroll Baker, George Eastman, Isabelle De Funes
Country: Italy / France

An erotic photographer finds herself being put under the spell of lesbian witch with a sadomasochistic streak… or is it all her imagination?

Let’s see, this movie has lesbianism, sado-masochism, bizarre erotic dreams, a camera that kills what it shoots, lots of nudity, rapid-fire flashback editing, dolls in leather outfits turning into real women in leather outfits, whippings, conversations about politics, ambiguity about whether what happens is truth or illusion, bloody needles, Nazi imagery, and is based on comics by Guido Crepax. For the first hour it thinks it’a an art film, decides it’s a horror film in the last twenty minutes, and then changes back into an art film. If there’s a message, I’ll leave it to the Eurofans to figure out, though I suspect it’s trying to say that we’re all sadomasochistic lesbians at heart and those who deny it are dishonest, which is the type of message you don’t want to bother arguing with because it comes with its own counterargument at the ready, though I could say something derogatory along the lines of those who wish to believe their own personal fetishes are really universal. Is it any good? Well, it’s not my cup of tea, but I suspect that I have enough information here to help anyone who might want to know if it’s to their own tastes.

Blacula (1972)

BLACULA (1972)
Article 2734 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-31-2008
Posting Date: 2-6-2009
Directed by William Crain
Featuring William Marshall, Vonetta McGee, Denise Nicholas
Country: USA

When a black prince visits the castle of Count Dracula, he is turned into a vampire and sealed in a coffin. He is finally released from his bondage in modern times, and he meets a woman who resembles his long-dead wife.

The direction is fairly weak and the script could use a revision or two, but this blaxploitation horror movie works well anyway. Part of the reason is that the acting is quite good, especially from classically-trained William Marshall in the title role; he imbues his character with a genuine sense of tragedy, and this adds a dimension to the movie it might not otherwise have. There’s none of the annoying jive talk that marred the sequel here; in fact, the movie is generally free from black stereotypes (though other stereotypes show up). Outside of Marshall, the most familiar name in the cast to me is Elisha Cook, but his role as a morgue attendant is so small that he barely has anything to do, though I did hope he would show up as a vampire eventually. One thing I did like about this movie is that it actually addresses the fact that a vampire on the loose might well result in a plague of vampirism, a fact that many other vampire movies overlook. I also like the fact that the detective on the case shows some forethought in his dealing with vampires, though his inconsistency in this regard in the later scenes is one of the script problems that should have been fixed.

Blood for Dracula (1974)

BLOOD FOR DRACULA (1974)
aka Andy Warhol’s Dracula, Dracula cerca sangue di vergine… e mori di sete!!!
Article 2733 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-30-2008
Posting Date: 2-5-2009
Directed by Paul Morissey
Featuring Joe Dallesandro, Udo Kier, Vittorio De Sica
Country: Italy / France

Dracula must leave Romania because of the distressing lack of virgins; he can ingest only the blood of the untouched. He goes to Italy, where he’s sure the religious traditions will make a virgin bride easy to find.

When this movie played in my area during the seventies, I remember the local reviewer gave it the lowest rating I’ve ever seen; he used to rate them on a scale of 1 to 100, but he rarely gave ratings less than 80. He gave this one a 20. I don’t think the movie is anywhere near that bad, though I do think it’s so-so at best. It’s at least partially conceived as a comedy, with our Dracula here being perhaps the least intimidating version of the character I’ve seen; he’s sickly and given to vomiting, especially if he’s drunk the blood of a non-virgin (for what it’s worth, actor Udo Kier does an excellent job of vomiting, though I’m not sure it’s a talent really worth pursuing). Despite the fact that it’s an Italian/French movie, there’s no dubbing problem, as it was shot in English, and we get a fascinating cornucopia of accents, what with the Count’s Romanian accent, the Italian accents, and Joe Dallesandro’s New York accent. In the sex and gore departments, it’s out to out-Hammer Hammer, and though this may make it of some interest to horror fans, as a comedy it’s not really that funny (my favorite moment here was hearing Vittorio De Sica ruminate on Dracula’s name), and once you get the gist of where it’s all going, it’s fairly predictable. The movie features two famous directors in the cast; the aformentioned De Sica, and a cameo from Roman Polanski who plays a bar game in one of the movie’s more memorable scenes. One question I’ve always had is this; just how much artistic input did Andy Warhol really have in this one? And I’d love to hear confirmation on one curious fact; according to the “Fantastic Cinema Subject Guide”, Italian sources do not credit Paul Morrissey as the director of this movie, but Antonio Margheriti.