Beer Parade (1933)

Beer Parade (1933)
Article 5733 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-4-2020
Directed by Dick Huemer
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Inebriated Animation

Scrappy and his little brother Oopie serve beer to a gang of thirsty gnomes, but an enraged prohibitionist chops up their kegs. Will they seek revenge?

For the record, Scrappy was an animated character for the Columbia cartoons of the thirties, and he and his little brother are little kids. This cartoon does not have them imbibing in the alcoholic beverages; they only serve it to a gang of thirsty gnomes (which I suspect are borrowed from the story of Rip Van Winkle). Make no mistake about it; this cartoon is not about responsible drinking. It’s a celebration of excess and inebriation; not one of these gnomes could be called a designated driver. It’s the presence of the gnomes that makes this one qualify as fantastic cinema, and even though the cartoon doesn’t explicitly call them gnomes (or, for that matter, anything), I feel I can safely say that an assortment of big-nosed bearded humanoids which are shorter than the little kids in the cartoon can safely classified as some sort of fantastically-themed breed. This is obviously a celebration of the lifting of prohibition. It’s also one of the better Scrappy cartoons I’ve seen, though it could definitely be described as politically incorrect; it’s energetic and has its funny moments. It’s certainly one of the funnier cartoons I’ve seen from Columbia in this era.


Bear Shooters (1930)

Bear Shooters (1930)
Article 5732 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-2-2020
Directed by Robert F. McGowan
Featuring Norman ‘Chubby’ Chaney, Jackie Cooper, Allen ‘Farina’ Hoskins
Country: USA
What it is: Our Gang short

The kids go on a camping trip, ostensibly to shoot bears. Poachers try to scare them off.

I debated reviewing this one, but decided that since gorillas were de facto monsters in this cinematic era, and the fact that this short uses the gorilla for its fear value, this short can be classified as comic borderline horror. Granted, it’s just a man in a gorilla suit, but that’s not the first time that’s happened. I haven’t seen many of the Our Gang shorts from this era, so I don’t have much I can compare it to, but I gather this wasn’t one of the better ones. It certainly feels a bit thin in the comedy department, and cuteness and whimsy only goes so far with me. Still, at only 20 minutes, it doesn’t have time to get really dull.

Psyched by the 4D Witch (A Tale of Demonology) (1973)

Psyched by the 4D Witch (A Tale of Demonology) (1973)
Article 5731 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-31-2020
Directed by Victor Luminera
Featuring Margo, Esoterica, Tom Yerian
Country: USA
What it is: DAUGHTER OF HORROR, stoned

A girl is possessed by a witch ancestor from the astral plane, who leads her into increasingly bizarre sexual experiences.

I’ve got to hand it to Something Weird video; they actually managed to find a companion movie that would almost make its main movie on the DVD (MONSTER A-GO-GO) feel like the superior film. Still, take note that I said almost; to my mind, the stupid weirdness of this film is still more interesting than the dead-in-the-water empty space that fills most of its companion film. Granted, I can see why they paired these two films; they both feature endings which belie the notion that the rest of the film ever really happened in the first place. In MAGG, this ending felt like a bizarre money-saving scheme to avoid having to shoot an actual ending; here it’s no surprise at all. Basically, this film was shot silent and had all of its sound added afterwards, with narration, psychedelic music, and snippets of “Night on Bald Mountain” filling up the soundtrack. It feels like a drugged-up sexed-out cross between DAUGHTER OF HORROR and the 3D sequences from THE MASK. Yet, for all of its weirdness, it more or less remains focused and coherent; it knows what it’s about and sticks to it. Which is not to say it’s good; it’s pretty awful. But I’ve seen weirder and I’ve seen worse.

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001)
Article 5730 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-30-2020
Directed by Larry Blamire
Featuring Larry Blamire, Fay Masterson, Brian Howe
Country: USA
What it is: No-budget 50s Scifi thriller parody

Three groups of people struggle with each other to obtain a meteor made of atmospherium; a dedicated scientist and his wife, an evil scientist intent on resurrecting a skeleton, and two stranded space aliens.

One of the pitfalls of trying to make a purposely bad movie for comic purposes is that it can end up being tacky, exploitational and/or unfocused. Not so this little gem. By keeping his attention focused on creating a specific type of bad film (no-budget SF thrillers from the fifties), he manages to capture a very specific cinematic style as well as keeping the movie disciplined; it never spirals out of control. Furthermore, Blamire has a keen ear for dialogue, and he does an amazing job of capturing the clumsy goofiness found in the dialogue of Edward D. Wood Jr. The end result is a movie that to my eyes, ranks as one of the funniest movie parodies since Mel Brooks gave us YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. Wonderful “bad” acting abounds, with Andrew Parks and Susan McConnell my personal favorites as the hapless space aliens trying to pretend they’re earthlings. The only real problem I have with the movie is that it drags a bit during the final third of the movie, which gives me the feeling that it was padded out a bit to make its length acceptable to modern audiences; it really should only run about 75 minutes rather than an hour and a half. Still, I can forgive that, since the middle third of the movie in which all the major characters meet in a cabin in the woods is one of the funniest stretches of cinematic fun I’ve ever seen. Quite simply, I love this movie.

Bambi (1942)

Bambi (1942)
Article 5729 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-27-2020
Directed by James Algar, Samuel Armstrong, David Hand et. al
Featuring the voices of Hardie Albright, Stan Alexander, Bobette Audrey
Country: USA
What it is: Nature slice of life – animated style

The story of the life of a deer from birth to adulthood.

In terms of its fantastic content, I could rightfully skip reviewing this one, as its sole fantastic content is that it features talking animals (and the inevitable anthropomorphic exaggerations that derive from it), and since I’ve argued that if that alone is the fantastic content of a cartoon, it’s more of a tradition of the form rather than an element of fantasy. However, since this is listed in the Walt Lee guide (and probably a few others as well), I’ll review it anyway.

Perhaps even more to the point, I wanted to review this one, as it remained the only major Disney animated feature from its first couple of decades that I had yet to see; today was the first time. One of the most striking things about this one is that it is so different from so many of their other early features; despite the anthropomorphism, it is mostly a realistic slice of life, and the style of animation recalls that of FANTASIA rather than of their more linear classics. In fact, there is arguably more charm in the scenes that set the moods of the changes of the season than in those scenes that actually contribute to the story; the use of color is simply stunning throughout. Also, the simple slice-of-life train of events that takes place here makes some of the more plot-oriented offerings of other animated films seem rather contrived. I have to say this one won me over completely; I was captivated for its whole 70 minute running time. And, yes, the most famous scene (the one known to traumatize kids) is as effective as its reputation suggests.

At the Circus (1944)

At the Circus (1944)
Article 5728 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-25-2020
Directed by Eddie Donnelly
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Mighty Mouse cartoon

Lions break loose at the mouse circus. Can Mighty Mouse save the circus people?

For every Mighty Mouse cartoon worth catching, there seems to be four or five that can safely be skipped. This is one of the latter group. The story is utterly routine. It appears to be part of a group of cartoons where his adventures are presented like a radio show; I know I’ve seen at least one other of these that did so. Still, I will give it a bit of credit; though it’s not playing for laughs, it does have a few gags that almost work; my favorite is discovering what animal serves as the lady mouse acrobat’s trapeze partner.

Assassin (1986)

Assassin (1986)
Article 5727 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-22-2020
Directed by Sandor Stern
Featuring Robert Conrad, Karen Austin, Richard Young
Country: USA
What it is: TV-Movie-style Terminator

When an agent goes on a killing spree, a former member of the agency is called in to catch him, only to discover that he’s chasing a robot.

Given that, at the time of this writing, Robert Conrad passed away only a month and a half ago, and given that “The Wild Wild West” was my favorite TV show as a kid, I’m glad to have a chance to encounter him in action, albeit in such a highly derivative TV thriller. His presence is welcome and familiar, and most of my pleasure in this movie is due to his presence. I wouldn’t call this movie a TERMINATOR clone; it only uses the concept of a killer-robot-on-the-loose and fashions a similar title. The plot they dredge up for this take on the idea is by the numbers. When you’re less than a minute into the movie, and you find yourself wondering if Conrad is going to turn out to be a former agent who is called back into action to fight a new menace, and the movie promptly obliges, you know you’re not dealing with writers struggling to come up with something new. Conrad made it watchable for me, but it is a pretty weak movie with a rather silly ending.

Asesinos de otros mundos (1973)

Asesinos de otros mundos (1973)
aka Santo versus the Killers from Other Worlds
Article 5726 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-21-2020
Directed by Ruben Galindo
Featuring Santo, Juan Gallardo, Sasha Montenegro
Country: Mexico
What it is: Santo vs the Blob

Santo battles gangsters, evil scientists, and a killer blob.

The minute I saw the primary monster in this one was a blob, I asked myself how Santo was going to wrestle such an unanthropomorphic beast in the final reel. Actually, the solution to that would have been very simple; he could have pulled the tarpaulin off and revealed a bunch of very anthropomorphic extras. This is just my way of saying that the blob special effects in this one are some of the most bargain basement ever, and those who like goofy monsters will have plenty to laugh at here. On a side note, this movie is singularly short of two common items found in Santo movies; there are no extraneous wrestling scenes, and no nightclub sequences. There is a sequence where Santo has to do battle with a couple of guys armed like gladiators (followed by a guy armed with a flamethrower). No, I couldn’t follow the plot subtleties (if there were any) since there were no English subtitles to help me out, but that’s hardly the first time I’ve had that problem with a Santo movie. I just can’t believe I’ve had this one sitting around in my collection unwatched until now.

Around is Around (1953)

Around is Around (1953)
Article 5725 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-21-2020
Directed by Evelyn Lambart and Norman McLaren
No cast
Country: Canada
What it is: Abstract depth

No plot.

I’m not sure I would have decided to review this one if left to my judgment, but since it is listed in the Walt Lee guide and I’ve already covered many other titles from the world of abstract animation, I felt I should cover this one as well. At heart, though, I have no real objection to doing so, as this is one of the best examples of abstract animation I’ve seen. The only sad thing about it is that I’m watching a 2-D version of a film that was originally made for 3-D. Still, I can imagine what it must have been like to have seen it in 3-D; much of the abstract action seems to take place in places which offer enormous depth to them, such as a starscape or a cloudscape. If it lived up to what I imagined, it would be stunning. Being an abstract film, it isn’t possible to give a clear description to the action, but it is lovely to look at and the music is very effective.

Appetit d’oiseau (1964)

Appetit d’oiseau (1964)
aka Appetite of a Bird
Article 5724 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-20-2020
Directed by Peter Foldes
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Animated allegory on the battle of the sexes

An animated exploration of the battle for dominance between the sexes eventually presents itself as a confrontation between a lion and a bird.

Though I’ve seen a lot of animated shorts lately that I would call cartoons, I wouldn’t use that word to define this animated (with short non-animated segments) exploration of sexual dominance. Though it eventually settles on its allegorical symbols being a lion and a bird, it has a stream-of-consciousness feel of an Emile Cohl cartoon matured and minus the innocence. It’s overtly sexual, which is very appropriate in this case. I found it nightmarishly fascinating, though I can fully understand many people being put off by this one; its rating of 5.6 on IMDB certainly indicates that there’s not a lot of love for this one. Nevertheless, I found this to be definitely worth a viewing.