La marca de Satanas (1957)

aka The Mark of Satan
Article 5185 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-18-2016
Directed by Chano Urueta
Featuring Luis Aguilar, Flor Silvestre, Jaime Fernandez
Country: Mexico
What it is: Mexican Weird Western

A singing cowboy and his comic-relief nearly-deaf sidekick try to solve the mystery of a house where an axe murder took place twelve months ago.

Don’t let the title fool you; it’s not a movie about devil worshipers. It’s a Mexican weird western, and the fantastic intent includes an an axe murderer dressed in black from head to toe, a couple of bloody deaths, an axe that seems to move around of its own accord, a ghost, a zombie, and a walking headless cowboy. It’s apparently the third part of a four movie series involving the cowboy and his sidekick; I’ve seen the fourth part, LA CABEZA DE PANCHO VILLA, and couldn’t make heads or tails out of it due to the lack of English subtitles. This one does have subtitles, but the plot is more than a bit confusing, the supernatural content is all explained away (though the explanations don’t match the visuals from earlier in the movie), and most of the humorous content revolves around the comic sidekick not hearing things well or trying to clean out his ears. It’s pretty silly, but it does hit a good spooky vibe at times, and there’s a goofy charm to the proceedings that makes me like it despite its flaws. Of course, the movie stops in its tracks several times to make room for musical numbers.

G-Men Never Forget (1948)

Article 5184 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-17-2016
Directed by Fred C. Brannon and Yakima Canutt
Featuring Clayton Moore, Roy Barcroft, Ramsay Ames
Country: USA
What it is: Action serial

An escaped gangster gets plastic surgery so he can imitate a police commissioner, thus getting access to information for his gangster activities. Can a government man see through the disguise and capture the gangster?

It seems like ages since I’ve covered a serial from the forties, but sadly, I have to admit this one didn’t impress me. Granted, I’ve always had a rocky relationship with the serial form. In theory, I love the idea – the episodic telling of a story over several weeks sounds like fun. However, in actual practice, I was disappointed, since most serials aren’t interested in telling a story as much as they are as using the bare bones of one from which to a hang and endless series of action sequences, and, not being an action fan, I get bored. What I most noticed about this one was how each episode seemed to be modeled on the same template. First, resolve the cliffhanger. Then, have an office scene where the heroes decide to investigate a place believed to be a haven of criminal activities. When they get there, they meet the main henchman and an assistant henchman. There is a fistfight, the main henchman gets away, and the assistant henchman is killed. Then there is another meeting, where another plan of action is discussed, and this leads us to the episode’s ending cliffhanger. In this serial, they hardly ever depart from this template. As a result, I felt it got rather dull and tired, and I was glad to put this one to rest. As for the fantastic content, one of my sources points to the operation that makes the criminal look like someone else, and I consider that to be very minor fantastic content. It does, however, delve into science fiction with a liquid that bursts into fire once it dries; this comes into play during a couple of episodes. This one is very ordinary at best.

Macario (1960)

MACARIO (1960)
Article 5183 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-16-2016
Directed by Roberto Gavaldon
Featuring Ignacio Lopez Tarso, Pina Pellicer, Enrique Lucero
Country: Mexico
What it is: Fantasy

On the Day of the Dead, a poor woodsman, unhappy with his life of poverty, vows he will not eat until he can have a cooked turkey all to himself without sharing. When he finally gets his wish, he finds himself visited by God, the Devil and Death, and shares with one of them, and he receives a gift…

I can’t quite remember where, but I know I’ve encountered the basic story here before; it’s about a man given the power to cure others but only if death appears at the foot of the bed of the patient rather than at the head of the bed. It’s based loosely on a tale from the Brothers Grimm. It’s well acted, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, and it has a truly memorable ending where our hero runs through a spooky forest and eventually ends up at the cave of Death. Overall, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the whole thing, but it does have a lingering power, and it’s definitely one of the best Mexican movies I’ve seen.

Have a Nice Weekend (1975)

Article 5182 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-15-2016
Directed by Michael Walters
Featuring Michael B. Miller, Peter Dompe, Valerie Shepherd
Country: USA
What it is: Psycho killer

A Vietnam veteran gathers family and friends together for a meeting at an isolated house on an island. Then people start getting killed…

It’s part early slasher film (though lovers of that sort of film won’t emerge from this one satisfied), part TEN LITTLE INDIANS-style whodunit, and part Sominex ingredient. It’s one of those movies that had the potential to be interesting, but the script is horribly uneven, it’s full of uninteresting characters with uninteresting problems all being underplayed at the same level by actors who seem to be mostly competent but bored, and the movie is devoid of any sense of fun or suspense. It appears to be one of those obscure forgotten regional movies that fully deserves its obscurity. For those interested in tackling it anyway, hold on a bit after “THE END” flashes up; there’s an epilogue that explains the movie… that is, if you care. I’m not sure I did.

The Other Hell (1981)

aka L’altro inferno
Article 5181 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-14-2016
Directed by Bruno Mattei
Featuring Franca Stoppi, Carlo De Mejo, Francesca Carmeno
Country: Italy
What it is: Nunsploitation horror

Sisters are being brutally murdered at a convent. An ecclesiastical investigator is sent to look into them. Are they caused by the devil, or is it human evil?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Italian horror films from the seventies, it’s that convents are not havens of sanity and healthy minds; in fact, you’d probably find better adjusted residents in an asylum. I also know why the nuns’ outfits have white parts to them; it’s so that the blood shows up more clearly. That being said, I will have to admit this isn’t your usual foray into nunsploitation; for one thing, it eschews the usual sexual antics of that type of movie (at least visually – there is talk). It chooses to clearly go the route of horror rather than exploitation, but it does get pretty sleazy in that regard. It also goes in some odd directions; I was suspecting something in the vein of THE EXORCIST, but if anything, it ultimately owes a bit more to CARRIE before it’s all over. It even owes a bit to the more gothic Italian horror of the sixties, especially in the climax. It also gets more than a bit silly, but that may be partially due to the English dubbing. At any rate, it’s one of the odder examples of this type of movie.

Ginger Nutt’s Forest Dragon (1950)

Article 5180 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-10-2016
Directed by Bert Felstead
Voice cast unknown
Country: UK
What it is: Cartoon

Squirrel Ginger Nutt tries to impress his girlfriend by promising to defend her from a forest monster, but when some of Ginger’s animal friends dress up as a monster…

After having watched this short, I was wondering which of the American cartoon production companies made it. For some reason, it never occurred to me that another country might be also putting out series animated shorts like these, though I don’t know why that should surprise me. At any rate, this is part of a British series of shorts by David Hand known as his “Animaland” series, and on top of the anthropomorphic animals, we have some of them dressing up as a dragon to enhance the fantastic content. It has a bit of the feel of a Warner Brothers cartoon, thanks largely to the fact that musical director Henry Reed uses the same style as Carl Stalling in writing his scores. The story is well written and fun, and the cartoon is solidly animated. It’s not great, but it makes for a fun introduction to this series.

Brave Little Tailor (1939)

Article 5179 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-9-2016
Directed by Bill Roberts
Featuring the voices of Walt Disney, Marcellite Garner, Eddie Holden
Country: USA
What it is: Animated fairy tale whimsy

A tailor kills seven flies with one blow; when he brags about it, he is mistaken for a giant killer and is sent out to save the city from one.

This is another of Disney’s best cartoons, and it features Mickey Mouse well cast as the tailor who is suddenly thrown out of his depth when he faces off with a giant. It’s superbly animated and the gags are creatively rendered. The middle section is my favorite part; Mickey finds himself in constant danger from the giant’s actions before the giant is even aware Mickey exists; the sequence inside the giant’s mouth is quite amusing. I also remember a comic book adaptation of the short that used many of the images from it. Once again, this is Disney at his best.

The other half of the project…

The second half of the project came five months later.

I remained a member of the Sinister Cinema message board during this time, but things had taken a turn for the worse. It had become plagued with infighting, trolls, and hackers. It was rather unpleasant and dispiriting to visit the place.

I was wondering if there was something I might do to make the place a little more inviting, and I began toying with the idea of taking my movie-watching project a public affair rather than a purely private one. I hit upon an idea – what, if after each viewing of a movie, I posted a short review of the film as a starting point for discussion? It sounded like a good idea to me, and thus, the Movie of the Day project was born.

It was rather strange at first. I’d already watched 150 movies, and I wanted the review section to not skip them. I decided I would write two reviews a day; one for the movie I saw that day, and one for a movie earlier in the list; I would store the newer review in the My Movies section of IMDB, and post the older review on the board.

As might be expected, some of the earlier reviews were fairly vague; it’d had been several months since I’d seen them and often had to rely on memory for my review. At least once I had to go back and rewatch one of those movies, as I didn’t remember a thing about them.

Eventually, someone suggested that I hold on to copies of all my reviews, which I also decided was a good idea; up to that time, I didn’t bother. At any rate, that is why this website exists; it holds all of the old reviews for these movies.

There’s more to the story of what happened with this project. For example, the Sinister Cinema message board is long gone and the project appeared at one time or another in various places. Perhaps I’ll discuss that another time. My next post in the series will bring me to the beginning of my discussion of the subject of Genre Overlap, the title of this series.

Jenkins and the Donkey (1911)

aka Tontolini e l’asino
Article 5178 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-8-2016
Director unknown
Featuring Polidor
Country: Italy
What it is: Silly comedy

A schoolboy steals a donkey and a bunch of balloons to join a parade, but ends up airborne along with the beast.

Here’s one that entered my “ones that got away” list a few days ago, and it prompted someone to point my way to an abbreviated version that was online; all it’s missing is part of the beginning, the ending, and a few title cards. It is a fairly amusing little short, but given the fact that the title character is holding the balloons which are otherwise not connected to the donkey, I can only marvel at the strength of his thighs at being able to carry the beast with him once he gets airborne. The Walt Lee guide describes the comic business with the balloons making the character airborne as the fantastic content, but if that seems more like comic exaggeration than full-blown fantastic content, then be aware that the story eventually deals with their encounter with angels as well. It’s silly, but fun.

L’oiseau bleu (1908)

aka The Blue Bird
Article 5177 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-6-2016
Director unknown
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Fairy tale

An evil queen schemes to have her ugly daughter marry a visiting prince, but the prince prefers the queen’s other daughter, who is beautiful. The beautiful daughter is imprisoned and the prince is turned into a blue bird. Will he be able to rescue her?

I’ve seen a couple of other movies with the title THE BLUE BIRD based on the Maeterlinck play and was expecting this to be an earlier version, but it’s an entirely different story with the same name. It’s a fairly standard fairy tale, though in these condensed early silent shirts, it can be a little difficult following the plot. The print I saw is in fairly poor shape, but it does look like the hand-painted color effects were well done. All in all, it’s a passable silent short of the era.