Hundra (1983)

Hundra (1983)
Article 5877 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-31-2020
Directed by Matt Cimber
Featuring Laurene Landon, Cihangir Gaffari, Maria Casal
Country: Spain / USA
What it is: Feminist Sword and Sorcery movie

The only survivor of an all-female tribe which was slaughtered by a gang of men vows vengeance on that gender… until she finds the man she can fall in love with.

This is fairly easy to categorize; it’s a feminist sword and sorcery movie. I’m no expert on feminism, and the term can mean vastly different things to different people, so I’ll not comment on that aspect of the movie other than to say that there is always a little satisfaction to be gained from seeing jerks get their bloody comeuppance. However, I do have some opinions on sword and sorcery I’ll share. The first is that I’m not a big fan of the form, since I’m not a big fan of brutal and savage violence. However, my interest level goes down even farther when I encounter sword and sorcery that is devoid of sorcery; without the magic, the form turns primarily into an action/adventure form that takes place in a semi-medieval setting. And that’s the case here; without the magic, we get mostly bloody mayhem; in fact, I’d pretty much had my fill of it even before the opening credits rolled, and I knew there was even more to come. The movie improves a bit during the second half when the title character actually does manage to find someone she can love, and the movie takes a left turn into a somewhat comic “can our barbarian learn manners” theme, but you know that’s just a respite; there’s more slaughter to come. All in all, I had very limited use for this one.

Konyok-gorbunok (1941)

Konyok-gorbunok (1941)
aka Humpbacked Horse
Article 5876 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-30-2020
Directed by Aleksandr Rou
Featuring Pyotr Aleynikov, Marina Kovalyova, Georgiy Millyar
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Russian fantasy

A peasant boy who cares for a magical horse is given impossible tasks by a tsar.

There’s plenty of fantastic content in this Russian fantasy; I wish I could say more about the story, though, but since my copy of the movie was in unsubtitled Russian, I had only visuals to go on. The visuals are very striking, particularly in scenes where the peasant boy has to meet up with a variety of giant characters in any number of strange environments. But many of the plot elements are buried in the dialogue, so I only have a vague notion of what’s going on. I’ll probably find out eventually; there are other versions of this story out there. As it is, there’s quite a bit of fantasy eye-candy in this one, and it looks like it could be a bit of fun, though some of the acting comes across as very stagebound.

Humanoid Woman (1981)

Humanoid Woman (1981)
Article 5875 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-30-2020
Directed by Richard Viktorov and Nikolay Viktorov
Featuring Yelena Metyolkina, Vadim Ledogorov, Uldis Lieldidzs
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Arty outer space adventure

The only survivor found on a derelict spaceship is brought to Earth and stays with a family. She has lost her memory, but she’s a clone with strange powers. What is her story and what will be her fate?

The English version of this movie is difficult and confusing, and has a fragmented story-telling style. It also runs only ninety minutes, where according to IMDB, it’s original running time is closer to two and a half hours. This means a good hour of the movie is missing, and perhaps that is why it feels so fragmented. Still, the movie gets away with it during the first half on the strength of Yelena Metyolina’s performance as Niyya, the title character; she imbues her character with a fascinating alienness that is gripping. However, once the action shifts to her home planet, the story mostly involves political intrigues, and here the fragmented style becomes a major annoyance. Reportedly, there’s a restored version out there somewhere, and perhaps that’s an improvement. Based on the print I saw, though, I feel it’s more an interesting failure rather than a success.

Howdy Doody’s Christmas (1951)

Howdy Doody’s Christmas (1951)
Article 5874 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-28-2020
Director unknown
Featuring Dayton Allen, Robert Keeshan, Bob Smith
Country: USA
What it is: A puppet Christmas

When Santa fails to show up for Christmas, Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabelle the Clown take the rocket doodle to the North Pole, where Santa is being kept hostage by Ugly Sam who has mistaken Santa for a burglar.

I have this one on a collection of cartoons, but it barely qualifies as one; outside of about 15 seconds of Santa taking off in his sleigh, it’s all live action. Other than that, it’s a not particularly memorable piece of whimsy with Clarabelle’s antics the highlight. The presence of Santa as well as the fact that the Rocket Doodle appears to be the flying machine from the Flash Gordon serials provides the fantastic content. It’s holiday filler, and there’s lots of that out there.

Howard the Duck (1986)

Howard the Duck (1986)
Article 5873 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-26-2020
Directed by Willard Huyck
Featuring Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins
Country: USA
What it is: … no, I’m not going to make duck pun

An anthropomorphic duck is brought to this world from another universe. He seeks a way to return home, but complications arise when an evil force from outer space plots an invasion of Earth.

I’ve never read any Howard the Duck comic books, so I really don’t know what they were like. I did, however, see images of him, and the one thing that always bothered me was that I felt the design of the character of the movie looked less like the duck from the comic book and more like Yakky Doodle. Today, though, marks the first time I actually saw the movie. After sitting through an hour and a half of half-baked duck jokes, frenetic action sequences, special effects, lame slapstick, and cuteness, I found myself sitting there and thinking that there hasn’t been a single moment of this movie that didn’t feel forced and contrived. If there’s any philosophy around the making of this movie, I suspect it was that if they threw enough money at it, it would compensate for the appallingly dismal script. It wasn’t fun or funny; it was just loud and annoying. I don’t know if it’s in the running for the worst film ever made, but I do know that it feels like one of the most saddening wastes of money I’ve ever seen.

The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)

The House Where Evil Dwells (1982)
Article 5872 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-26-2020
Directed by Kevin Connor
Featuring Edward Albert, Susan George, Doug McClure
Country: Japan / USA
What it is: Haunted house in Japan

An American family moves into a haunted Japanese house that was the site of bloody mayhem 140 years earlier. Will the ghosts use the new residents to recreate the slaughter?

Of course they will, and they do. And you’ll see the end coming very early in the movie, and watching this movie is merely an exercise in fighting out how long it takes to get down to what it sets up early on. Unfortunately, most of the movie is just filler: a few nude scenes, scary happenings happening just because the movie is supposed to have scary happenings, some truly silly moments (those giant spiders muttering in Japanese), etc. You’ve seen most of this before in other movies, and what you haven’t seen before isn’t really worth seeing. Forgettable.

The House at the Edge of the Park (1980)

The House at the Edge of the Park (1980)
aka La casa sperduta nel parco
Article 5871 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-25-2020
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Featuring David Hess, Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo
Country: Italy
What it is: You can figure it out

A sadistic rapist is invited to a party of upper-class people, and begins terrorizing them.

If when combining the title of this movie with the fact that the lead is played by David Hess, you find yourself thinking of a similarly-titled movie from several years earlier, you’re on the right track. If you recognize the director’s name and know what type of movie he’s most famous for, you’ll have an idea of the pleasantness level of the movie. The description of this movie on the movie set on which I found it says it has partial nudity and mild violence; the person who wrote that either did not see the movie or has a very different definition of the terms “mild” and “partial”. Yes, the movie has its supporters, but I’m not one of them; I found it to be a grueling stretch of predictable unpleasantness, neither entertaining nor instructive. Exploitation fans might find some use for this one; me, I’ll be quite happy if I never see it again.

The House of Tomorrow (1949)

The House of Tomorrow (1949)
Article 5870 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-25-2020
Directed by Tex Avery
Featuring the voices of Frank Graham, Don Messick, and the body of Joi Lansing
Country: USA
What it is: Tex Avery blackout gag cartoon

Take a tour of the House of Tomorrow, and enjoy all the new luxuries!

Yes, it’s another Tex Avery blackout gag style cartoon. The last time I covered one of these was in another Tex Avery cartoon, and though that was for Warner Brothers, this is for MGM. In the last review, I mentioned that there should only be one dog-and-tree gag, and though this doesn’t have any, it does have the dog-and-fire-hydrant gag, which is pretty much the same thing; however, he restricts it to one. Instead, he peppers this one with as many mother-in-law gags as he can, which gets equally old. Overall, though, this is a good cartoon, but for Tex to be at his best, you really have to catch him in a non-blackout style cartoon; give him the right character, and he can go nuts with it. And, for the adults, there is a clip of Joi Lansing; this is proof positive that many cartoons weren’t made only for kiddies.

House of Magic (1937)

House of Magic (1937)
Article 5869 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-25-2020
Directed by Walter Lantz
No voice actors
Country: USA
What it is: Walter Lantz cartoon

Three monkeys try to get out of a thunderstorm by ducking into a house of magic. They try to sleep, but are bothered by the magical items in the store.

During the mid-thirties, it looks like a real attempt was made to make Meany, Miny and Moe (the three monkeys in the cartoon) cartoon stars; I gather that they didn’t really make it big, as no further cartoons were made featuring them after 1937. I don’t know how they were in the other cartoons, but I didn’t think they were all that bad here; they had a certain degree of personality, and the gags are okay. I also like that there’s no talk in the cartoon; everything is told visually. It’s no classic, but I found it amusing enough.

Hot to Trot (1988)

Hot to Trot (1988)
Article 5868 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-24-2020
Directed by Michael Dinner
Featuring Bobcat Goldthwait, Dabney Coleman, John Candy
Country: USA
What it is: I miss Francis

A ne’er-do-well inherits half of a brokerage firm and a talking horse. Can the talking horse help him to succeed at the brokerage firm?

I’d heard of Bobcat Goldthwait, but I never caught his act. If, however, this movie catches him at his usual shtick, I don’t think I missed much. Ultimately, though, I suspect that the movie doesn’t really do justice to him; from what I gather from the trivia on IMDB, he was talked into doing it for the money. It’s pretty much what I’d suspect from an eighties movie that borrowed from a much earlier concept (the Francis the talking mule and Mr. Ed talking animals gimmick); it mostly uses the idea to take advantage of the increased permissiveness to add off-color jokes to the proceedings. Every once in a while I catch an idea that I find clever; I like the concept of the human having to move his lips to make it look like he’s saying what the horse is saying. Mostly, the movie is just really lame and obvious. There’s a few fun movie clips that pop up, and some of the trivia on IMDB is interesting (the lead role was originally supposed to be Joan Rivers?), but other than that, it’s a bore. Incidentally, the horse was originally voiced by Elliott Gould, but after some advanced screenings, John Candy was called in to redub; he ignored most of the dialogue in the script and ad-libbed.