Mark of the Gorilla (1950)

MARK OF THE GORILLA (1950)
Article 1885 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-13-2006
Posting Date: 10-10-2006
Directed by William A. Berke
Featuring Johnny Weissmuller, Trudy Marshall, Suzanne Dalbert

When a messenger is killed by a man-in-a-gorilla-suit, Jungle Jim is confused; this isn’t man-in-a-gorilla-suit country. He visits a nearby scientific expedition and learns that there is a hidden cache of gold somewhere within the game preserve. Jungle Jim begins to suspect that the man-in-a-gorilla-suit is not a real gorilla, but actually a man in a gorilla suit!

Just because I’m finished with the Weissmuller Tarzan movies doesn’t mean that I’m finished with Weissmuller; there are plenty of Jungle Jim movies out there. This one is pretty silly, in case you didn’t guess that from the plot description. Jungle Jim has an odd trio of animal friends here; there’s a monkey (who steals fish), a dog (who steals fish and smokes cigars), and a crow who is far and away the most useful of the three companions; he is constantly flying off with useful items and bringing them to Jungle Jim, or cluing him in on important discoveries. The movie also has a talking bird who kibitzes on a gin rummy game and is actually rather amusing. Still, I am disappointed a little by the ending. If I were writing the story, I wouldn’t have been able to resist having it end by having the main villain in charge of the gang of men-in-gorilla-suits-playing-men-in-gorilla-suits being killed off by a man-in-a-gorilla-suit-playing-a-real-gorilla. Or at least, I would have a man-in-a-gorilla-suit-playing-a-female-gorilla fall in love with one of the men-in-gorilla-suits-playing-men-in-gorilla-suits, though actually, that’s more of something that would happen to Lou Costello. But then, I wouldn’t be able to resist having one of the women encountering Jungle Jim offer to climb all over him, but then, I’ve been dying for someone to make that joke in every movie of the series.

The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942)

THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET (1942)
Article #952 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-23-2003
Posting Date: 3-21-2004
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Featuring Una Merkel, Lionel Atwill, Nat Pendleton

When an experiment goes awary, a doctor experimenting with suspended animation tries to escape from the police by taking a ship to Australia, but ends up stranded on a tropical island with other passengers when the ship goes down.

You’d think a movie about a mad doctor on Market Street would spend more time on Market Street than an unidentified tropical island, but I suppose it really doesn’t matter in this type of movie. I’ve always connected this movie to THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. RX in my mind, probably because both of them are minor Lionel Atwill horror outings that played on my local creature feature when I was a kid, but at least the other offering had a horror sequence with a gorilla that I remembered as well as the title; I didn’t remember a thing about this one, and I can see why; it’s a pretty forgettable entry in Universal’s horror output, being more of a jungle adventure movie than anything else. You know you’re in for it when not only does one of the comic relief characters gets higher billing than the mad scientist, but both of the comic reliefs get higher billing than the romantic leads. Atwill does all right, but the movie just doesn’t have much in the way of novelty.

M Movies

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M (1931)

M (1951)

M. M. M. 83 (1966)

Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm (1951)

Ma femme est une panthere (1961)

Macabre (1958)

Macabre (1980)

The Macabre Trunk (1936)

Macario (1960)

The Machine that Kills Bad People (1952)

Maciste (1915)

Maciste in Hell (1926)

Maciste in King Solomon’s Mines (1964)

Macumba Love (1960)

Mad About Men (1954)

Mad About Money (1938)

The Mad Butcher (1971)

The Mad Doctor (1941)

Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)

The Mad Doctor of Market Street (1942)

The Mad Executioners (1963)

The Mad Genius (1931)

The Mad Ghoul (1943)

A Mad House (1934)

Mad Love (1935)

The Mad Magician (1954)

The Mad Monster (1942)

Mad Monster Party? (1967)

Madam White Snake (1962)

Madame Sin (1972)

Made for Love (1926)

Madhouse (1974)

The Madmen of Mandoras (1963)

The Madness of Dr. Tube (1915)

Madonna of the Seven Moons (1945)

Le madre ee la morte (1911)

Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (1974)

The Magic Beans (1939)

The Magic Book (1900)

Magic Bricks (1904)

The Magic Carpet (1951)

The Magic Christian (1969)

Magic Christmas Tree (1964)

The Magic Cloak (1914)

The Magic Dice (1905)

The Magic Extinguisher (1901)

The Magic Face (1951)

The Magic Fluke (1949)

The Magic Flute (1946)

The Magic Fountain (1961)

The Magic Glass (1914)

The Magic Land of Mother Goose (1967)

The Magic Lantern (1903)

Magic Mummy (1933)

The Magic Pencil (1940)

Magic Serpent (1966)

The Magic Slipper (1948)

The Magic Sword (1901)

The Magic Sword (1962)

The Magic Voyage of Sinbad (1953)

The Magical Hen (1902)

The Magician (1898)

The Magician (1900)

The Magician (1926)

The Magician (1958)

The Magician’s Alms (1905)

The Magician’s Cavern (1901)

The Magnetic Monster (1953)

The Magnetic Telescope (1942)

Magnetic Umbrella (1911)

The Magus (1968)

Maid of Salem (1937)

Maidenquest (1971)

La maison ensorcelee (1908)

Make Believe Revue (1935)

Make Mine Music (1946)

Making Good (1932)

Making Sausages (1897)

Malatesta’s Carnival of Blood (1973)

Malefices (1962)

Malice in Slumberland (1942)

Malombra (1942)

The Malpas Mystery (1960)

The Maltese Bippy (1969)

Mama’s Little Pirate (1934)

Man Alive (1945)

The Man and the Monster (1959)

Man Beast (1956)

A Man Called Dagger (1968)

The Man Called Flintstone (1966)

A Man Called Rage (1964)

Man from Atlantis (1977)

The Man from Beyond (1922)

The Man from 1997 (1956)

The Man from Planet X (1951)

The Man from Yesterday (1949)

Man in Black (1949)

The Man in Half Moon Street (1944)

Man in Outer Space (1962)

Man in the Attic (1953)

The Man in the Back Seat (1961)

Man in the Dark (1953)

Man in the Mirror (1936)

Man in the Moon (1960)

The Man in the Trunk (1942)

The Man in the White Suit (1951)

Man Made Monster (1941)

Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)

The Man They Could Not Hang (1936)

The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959)

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936)

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)

The Man Who Laughs (1924)

The Man Who Laughs (1966)

The Man Who Lived Again (1936)

The Man Who Lived Twice (1936)

The Man Who Reclaimed his Head (1934)

The Man who Turned to Stone (1957)

The Man Who Wagged his Tail (1957)

The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever (1970)

The Man Who Wouldn’t Die (1942)

The Man With Nine Lives (1940)

The Man With the Rubber Head (1901)

The Man With the Twisted Lip (1921)

The Man With Two Faces (1934)

The Man With Two Heads (1972)

Man With Two Lives (1942)

The Man Without a Body (1957)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Mandrake the Magician (1959)

Maneater of Hydra (1967)

Manfish (1956)

Manga: Kobutori (1929)

Manhunt in the African Jungles (1943)

Manhunt of Mystery Island (1945)

Maniac (1934)

Maniac (1963)

The Maniac Barber (1899)

The Manipulator (1971)

Ein Mann Geht durch die Wand (1959)

Manos, the Hands of Fate (1966)

Man’s Genesis (1912)

The Manster (1960)

Many a Slip (1927)

Mara of the Wilderness (1965)

La marca de Satanas (1957)

La marca del muerto (1961)

The March Hare (1956)

The March of the Machines (1927)

Mare Nostrum (1926)

Marguerite da la nuit (1955)

Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn (1935)

Maria, the Magic Weaver (1960)

Le mariage de Babylas (1921)

Marianne de ma Jeunesse (1955)

Marie Chantal contre Dr. Kha (1965)

Marionettes (1939)

Mark of the Devil (1970)

Mark of the Gorilla (1950)

Mark of the Vampire (1935)

Mark of the Whistler (1944)

Mark of the Witch (1970)

La marmite diabolique (1902)

Marooned (1969)

Marquis de Sade’s Justine (1969)

Mars (1930)

Mars Attacks the World (1938)

Mars Needs Women (1967)

Marta (1971)

Un martien a Paris (1961)

Martin (1976)

Martyrs Chretiens (1905)

Marvellous Wreath (1903)

Marvelous Suspension (1902)

Mary and Gretel (1916)

Mary Jane’s Mishap (1903)

Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (1975)

Mary Poppin (1964)

I Marziani hanno dodici mani (1964)

The Mask (1961)

The Mask of Diijon (1946)

The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932)

The Masked Marvel (1943)

The Masque of the Red Death (1964)

Massacre at Central High (1976)

Massive Retaliation (1984)

The Master Key (1945)

Master Minds (1949)

The Master Mystery (1919)

Master of Horror (1960)

Master of the World (1961)

Masters of Venus (1962)

Matango (1963)

Matchless (1967)

Mater and the Ghostlight (2006)

Matilda (1978)

Un matrimonio Interplanetario (1909)

Maudite soit la guerre (1914)

Mausoleum (1983)

Max fait du ski (1910)

The Maze (1953)

Mazes and Monsters (1982)

The Meateater (1979)

The Mechanical Cow (1927)

The Mechanical Handy Man (1937)

The Mechanical Man (1921)

The Mechanical Man (1932)

The Mechanical Monsters (1941)

The Medium (1951)

The Medusa Touch (1978)

The Medusa vs. the Son of Hercules (1965)

Medvezhya Svadba (1925)

Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956)

Meet Mr. Lucifer (1953)

Megaforce (1982)

Melodie der Welt (1929)

The Melomaniac (1903)

Men Must Fight (1933)

Menace (1934)

Menace from Outer Space (1957)

The Mephisto Waltz (1970)

Merlin (1992)

The Mermaid (1904)

The Mermaid (1910)

The Mermaid (1965)

Mermaids of Tiburon (1962)

The Merry Cafe (1936)

The Merry Frolics of Satan (1906)

Merry Mavericks (1951)

Mesa of Lost Women (1953)

A Mesmerian Experiment (1905)

Mesmerist and Country Couple (1912)

Mesmerized (1985)

A Message from Mars (1913)

Message from Space (1978)

Messalina Against the Son of Hercules (1964)

Messiah of Evil (1973)

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1984)

La metamorphose du papillon (1904)

Metamorphoses (1912)

Metempsycose (1907)

Meteor (1979)

Metropolis (1926)

Mickey’s Ape Man (1933)

Mickey’s Gala Premier (1933)

Mickey’s Mechanical Man (1933)

Mickey’s Orphans (1931)

Microwave Massacre (1983)

Midi minuit (1970)

Midnight at Madam Tussaud’s (1936)

Midnight Frolics (1938)

The Midnight Hour (1985)

Midnight Manhunt (1945)

Midnight Warning (1932)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1968)

A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream (1909)

Midvinterblot (1946)

The Mighty Gorga (1969)

Mighty Joe Young (1949)

The Mighty Jungle (1964)

Mighty Mouse and the Magician (1948)

Mighty Mouse and the Pirates (1945)

Mighty Mouse in the Great Space Chase (1982)

Mighty Mouse Meets Jekyll and Hyde Cat (1944)

The Mighty Peking Man (1977)

Milano odia: La polizia non puo sparare (1974)

Milk and Money (1936)

The Milky Way (1940)

Mill of the Stone Women (1960)

The Miller’s Daughter (1934)

Million Dollar Countdown (1967)

The Million Dollar Duck (1971)

Million Dollar Legs (1932)

The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)

The Milpitas Monster (1976)

The Mind Benders (1963)

The Mind of Mr. Soames (1970)

The Mind Snatchers (1972)

Minotaur, the Wild Beast of Crete (1961)

Il mio amico Jekyll (1960)

The Miracle (1959)

Miracle in Milan (1951)

Miracle in Paradise Valley (1948)

Miracle in the Rain (1956)

The Miracle Man (1919)

The Miracle of Marcelino (1955)

The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima (1952)

The Miracle of the Bells (1948)

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street (1973)

The Miracle Rider (1935)

A Miracle Under the Inquisition (1904)

Miracles for Sale (1939)

Mirage (1965)

Miranda (1948)

Le miroir magique (1908)

Le miroir obscene (1973)

The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

Mision suicida (1973)

Miss Pinkerton (1932)

Missile Base at Taniak (1966)

Missile Monsters (1958)

Missile to the Moon (1958)

The Missing Guest (1938)

Mission Apocalypse (1966)

Mission for the Dragon (1979)

Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack (1979)

Mission Mars (1968)

Mission Stardust (1967)

Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937)

Mr. Drake’s Duck (1951)

Mr. Freedom (1969)

Mr. Hex (1946)

Mr. Hurry-Up of New York (1907)

Mr. Incredible and Pals (2005)

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948)

Mr. Peek-a-Boo (1951)

Mr. Sardonicus (1961)

Mr. Superinvisible (1970)

Mr. Wong, Detective (1938)

Mr. Wu (1927)

El misterio del rostro palido (1935)

Misterios de la magia negra (1958)

The Mistletoe Bough (1904)

The Mistress of Atlantis (1932)

Mistress of the World (1960)

The Mite Makes Right (1948)

Moans and Groans (1935)

Modern Times (1936)

Modesty Blaise (1968)

Le moine (1972)

Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules (1961)

The Mole People (1956)

Molly Moo-Cow and Rip Van Winkle (1935)

La momia nacianol (1981)

Il monaco di Monza (1962)

Il monello della strada (1950)

The Monitors (1969)

Monkey Business (1952)

The Monkey Talks (1927)

The Monkey’s Paw (1948)

The Monkey’s Teeth (1961)

The Monkey’s Uncle (1965)

The Monolith Monsters (1957)

Monsieur clown chez les Lilliputiens (1909)

Monsieur de Crac (1912)

Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

The Monster (1903)

The Monster (1925)

Monster a-Go Go (1965)

The Monster and the Ape (1945)

The Monster and the Girl (1941)

The Monster and the Stripper (1968)

Monster from Green Hell (1958)

The Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954)

The Monster Maker (1944)

The Monster of Camp Sunshine (1964)

The Monster of Highgate Ponds (1961)

The Monster of London City (1964)

The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959)

Monster on the Campus (1958)

The Monster that Challenged the World (1957)

The Monster Walks (1932)

Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (2008)

Monster Zero (1965)

The Monsters Demolisher (1962)

Monstroid – It Came from the Lake (1980)

Il monstruo de los volcanes (1963)

Il monstruo resucitado (1953)

Moon Pilot (1962)

Moon Man (1905)

The Moon of Israel (1924)

Moon of the Wolf (1972)

Moon Zero Two (1969)

Moonchild (1974)

A Moonlight Serenade, or A Miser Punished (1904)

Moonraker (1979)

Moonshine Mountain (1964)

The Moonstone (1934)

Moonwolf (1959)

More than a Miracle (1967)

More Wild Wild West (1980)

Moresque obiettivo allucinante (1967)

Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966)

Morianerna (1965)

Morpheus Mike (1915)

Le mort qui tue (1913)

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Most Dangerous Man Alive (1961)

Il Mostro dell’opera (1964)

Un mostro e mezzo (1964)

Motel Hell (1980)

Mother Goose on the Loose (1942)

Mother Goose’s Birthday Party (1950)

Mother’s Day (1980)

Mothra (1961)

Motor Pirates (1906)

The Mouse on the Moon (1963)

The Mouse that Roared (1959)

Mouse Trouble (1944)

Mousie Come Home (1946)

La muerte enamorada (1951)

La mujer y la bestia (1959)

Las mujeres panteras (1967)

The Mummy (1932)

The Mummy (1959)

The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals (1969)

The Mummy Strikes (1943)

Mummy’s Boys (1936)

The Mummy’s Curse (1944)

Mummy’s Dummies (1948)

The Mummy’s Ghost (1944)

The Mummy’s Hand (1944)

The Mummy’s Revenge (1973)

The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

The Mummy’s Tomb (1942)

El mundo del los muertos (1970)

Munster, Go Home! (1966)

Murder at Dawn (1932)

Murder at 45 R.P.M. (1960)

Murder at Midnight (1931)

Murder at the Baskervilles (1937)

Murder by Death (1976)

Murder by Decree (1979)

Murder by Invitation (1941)

Murder by Television (1935)

Murder by the Clock (1931)

The Murder Clinic (1967)

Murder, He Says (1945)

Murder in Space (1985)

Murder in the Air (1940)

Murder in the Blue Room (1944)

Murder Mansion (1972)

Murder Motel (1975)

Murderers’ Row (1966)

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971)

Murders in the Zoo (1933)

Museo del horror (1964)

The Museum (1930)

The Music of the Spheres (1984)

Musica-Lulu (1947)

Mutant (1984)

The Mutations (1974)

The Mutilator (1985)

Mutiny in Outer Space (1965)

A Mutt in a Rut (1949)

My Big Emergency (1936)

My Blood Runs Cold (1965)

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

My Boy Johnny (1944)

My Brother has Bad Dreams (1972)

My Brother Talks to Horses (1947)

My Friends Need Killing (1976)

My Science Project (1985)

My Son, the Hero (1962)

My Son, the Vampire (1952)

Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Myrte and the Demons (1950)

Le mystere Saint-Val (1945)

The Mysterians (1957)

Mysteries from Beyond Earth (1975)

Mysteries of the Gods (1976)

The Mysterious Box (1903)

Mysterious Cafe (1901)

The Mysterious Doctor (1943)

The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu (1929)

Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940)

The Mysterious Intruder (1946)

The Mysterious Island (1905)

The Mysterious Island (1929)

Mysterious Island (1951)

Mysterious Island (1961)

Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women (1979)

The Mysterious Island of Captain Nemo (1973)

The Mysterious Knight (1899)

The Mysterious Mr. M (1946)

The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)

The Mysterious Portrait (1899)

The Mysterious Retort (1906)

The Mysterious Stranger (1948)

Mystery in Dracula’s Castle (1973)

Mystery Liner (1934)

Mystery Mountain (1934)

Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935)

Mystery of Marie Roget (1942)

The Mystery of Mr. X (1934)

The Mystery of the Marie Celeste (1935)

The Mystery of the Rocks of Kador (1912)

The Mystery of the 13th Guest (1943)

Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)

The Mystery of 13 (1920)

Mystery on Monster Island (1981)

Mystery Plane (1939)

The Mystic (1925)

The Mystic Circle Murder (1938)

The Mystic Swing (1900)

The Mystical Flame (1903)

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Terror of Rome Against the Son of Hercules (1964)

TERROR OF ROME AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES (1964)
aka Maciste, gladiatore di Sparte, Maciste: Spartan Gladiator
Article 4908 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-23-2015
Directed by Mario Caiano
Featuring Mark Forest, Marilu Tolo, Elisabetta Fanti
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Sword and Sandal, Historical Style

A Spartan gladiator who is a favorite at the court of Rome becomes enamored with a beautiful Christian woman. When her sect is arrested as enemies of the Roman state, the gladiator tries to rescue them so they can escape to a safe land, but he risks the anger of Caesar.

Which son of Hercules is it this time? The original title would you lead you to believe it’s Maciste, but that name was a little obscure for the English language version, so it was changed to Poseidon. Being a historical story rather than a mythological one, it’s lighter on the fantastic content, but there are a few moments where the hero might be construed to have super-strength (one of which may be the result of a miracle brought about by his prayer to God), and at one point he fights a big ape that, as far as I can tell, isn’t a gorilla, a chimpanzee, or an orangutan; I don’t know if this is a fictional ape or the result of a poorly designed costume. Those hoping for an evil queen in this one will be disappointed; all female characters are on the side of good. Storywise, it’s a fairly solid entry into this over-crowded sub-genre of fantastic cinema, but it’s also a bit on the dull side. It even has the wisdom to use the comic-relief character sparingly, though the food-obsessed Caesar may be one himself. All in all, this is an acceptable example of a sword and sandal movie.

Tarzan of the Apes (1918)

TARZAN OF THE APES (1918)
Article 4282 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-5-2013
Directed by Scott Sidney
Featuring Elmo Lincoln, Enid Markey, True Boardman
Country: USA
What it is: A Tarzan movie, what else?

A British Lord and Lady end up stranded in Africa, and the woman gives birth to a son. When they both die, the child is reared by apes. Years later, and expedition is undertaken to discover the fate of the couple and to find the boy.

Given how many Tarzan movies I’ve already covered for this series, it’s a little amazing that I only now am covering this one; it is, after all, the first one made, is fairly well known, and is extant. The reason for this is that the source from which I culled most of the other Tarzan titles gives this one an incorrect year; I think it meant to place it in 1917, but reversed the last two numbers so it says 1971. From what I gather, this is the version of Tarzan that is closest to how he was envisioned by Edgar Rice Burroughs. He’s wild and savage, but does have some command of the English language, and Elmo Lincoln gives a fine performance in the role, as does Gordon Griffith as a young Tarzan (his sequences take up nearly half of the movie). Yet, I do feel I have to reserve judgment on this one. The version I saw of it has no musical soundtrack, and though I’ve seen other silent movies under the same circumstances, this is one of those movies that cries for a musical accompaniment. Without one, it feels rushed and confusing, and it’s rather difficult to connect with the story. However, one thing I will comment on is that Hollywood would get a lot better with their gorilla suits over time; though there are a lot of people in ape suits, only one is supposed to be a gorilla per se, and if they hadn’t told me it was a gorilla, I wouldn’t have had a clue to what it was.

Life, Liberty and Pursuit on the Planet of the Apes (1981)

LIFE, LIBERTY AND PURSUIT ON THE PLANET OF THE APES (1981)
TV-Movie
Article 3111 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-3-2009
Posting Date: 2-19-2010
Directed by Arnold Laven and Alf Kjellin
Featuring Roddy McDowall, Ron Harper, James Naughton
Country: USA
What it is: TV episodes edited into feature

In the first half, Virdon is shot and will die unless he is smuggled into a hospital for treatment. In the second, Burke is captured and subjected to brainwashing techniques, so Galen and Virdon must rescue him.

I still think the title in this particular entry of the series of TV-Movies culled from the “Planet of the Apes” TV series is awful, but it appears to be culled from a couple of the better episodes of the series. Now, to be honest, I actually haven’t seen the TV-Movie version, as I’ve not been able to find it, but since I know the two episodes that were used, and I’ve seen some of the other TV-Movies, I’ve been able to recreate the experience, as, other than some changes to the credit sequences, virtually no real editing was done. There is a certain art to picking which episodes to put together, and this one does a decent job of picking two episodes that were different enough from each other to seem distinct, while still having some common touches; in both, one of the humans is out of the action, scientific experiments are undertaken, and both revolve around ancient books (one on human anatomy, the other on brainwashing). Both episodes are pretty good, though the second one, which feature Beverly Garland, gets the edge.

Still, the episodes do display some of the problems that plagued the series; the dialogue is often clunky, the themes a little too obvious, and the two humans were never developed as distinct characters (you could reverse the roles of the characters in any episode without changing anything more than the references to the character names, and I don’t think anyone would notice). The non-development of the human character turns the series by default into the adventures of Galen, who displays oodles of character. I also grew to appreciate the skill of Mark Lenard’s performance as Urko the gorilla; he has great presence and imbues his character with a subtle but distinct sense of humor, and I found myself looking forward to his scenes.

Eve (1968)

EVE (1968)
aka THE FACE OF EVE
Article 1960 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-27-2006
Posting Date: 12-24-2006
Directed by Robert Lynn and Jeremy Summers
Featuring Celeste Yarnall, Robert Walker Jr., Herbert Lom

When an adventurer encounters a wild jungle woman while searching for information on a missing business partner, he uncovers a plot to defraud a rich Colonel and learns about a missing Inca treasure.

When this movie first popped up on my list, I almost discarded it under the belief that it was just an alternate title for KING OF KONG ISLAND, another movie from roughly the same period about a wild jungle girl named Eve; one of the alternate titles of that one is EVE, THE SAVAGE VENUS. As it turns out, they’re two different movies, though neither one of them is particularly worth looking for. At least the other one, with its plot about a mad scientist using surgery to make slaves out of gorillas, has some marked fantastic content; this one has nothing, outside of the mild fantasy element of the wild jungle girl. At least one plot description I’ve encountered mentions the girl as possessing psychic powers, but I see none of that in the actual movie. It’s a dull affair, especially during the long middle section where the hero returns to civilization, and any interest it does generate is more due to the presence of several familiar faces (Herbert Lom, Chrisoopher Lee, Fred Clark) than anything that actually happens. At least it doesn’t take itself too seriously, though it does resort to stereotypes (in the form of Jose Maria Caffarel’s comic character) to do so. One fun thing to do in the movie is to keep track of how many characters die as a result of their own monumental stupidity; I count at least three.

 

Darkest Africa (1936)

DARKEST AFRICA (1936)
(Serial)
Article #1258 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-24-2004
Posting Date: 1-21-2005
Directed by B. Reeves Eason and Joseph Kane
Featuring Clyde Beatty, Manuel King, Elaine Shepherd

An animal trainer undertakes to help a young jungle boy rescue his sister from the clutches of a power-hungry high priest from the lost city of Joba.

If my sources are correct, this was the first Republic serial, and even at this point I can see a marked improvement over the previous Clyde Beatty serial, THE LOST JUNGLE. This time the curiosity value is upped a notch by the inclusion not only of Beatty, but of Manuel King (“The Youngest Animal Trainer of All Time”) as the jungle boy. The fantastic elements are much more pronounced here, as the lost city of Joba is inhabited largely by winged flying men known as Bat Men. Watching them on the wing is actually quite a bit of fun, even if you can tell they’re obviously miniatures in some scenes (though not all) and certain flying sequences are repeated ad infinitum (spot how many times we see the same shot of a Bat Men flying away from us with leafless trees in the background). The guys playing the Bat Men don’t get credited by name, though; they are listed simply as Bat Men in the credits. For that matter, neither does Ray “Crash” Corrigan, who is billed (as he was in ZAMBA) by the name of the gorilla he plays (in this case, “Bonga”). For those who remember THE LOST JUNGLE, there is no sign of Syd Saylors in this one (the guy with the bobbing necktie), but the comic relief character Hambone is painful, and you can be thankful that he appears only intermittently.

King Kong Vs. Godzilla (1962)

KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962)
(a.k.a. KINGUKONGU TAI GOJIRA)
Article #1195 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-22-2004
Posting Date: 11-19-2004
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Tadao Takashima, Kenji Sahara, Yu Fujiki

A pharmaceutical company captures King Kong on Faro island at the same time that Godzilla breaks loose from an iceberg and returns to Japan.

Ten thoughts on KING KONG VS. GODZILLA

1) Like the original GODZILLA, this movie was heavily reedited for the American market and new footage was added. Unfortunately, the same care was not taken with this one as was taken with the original; most of the new footage consists of unconvincing newscasters sitting around and delivering stories, and the editing ot the Japanese footage is sloppy (they even use a scene of a newspaper photo of submarine fading into a shot of the real submarine in motion twice within a two minute period) and eccentric (repeated anomalous shots of a space satellite). They also replaced most of Akira Ifukube’s score with stock music, including an annoying encore of the shrill CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON music. I have yet to see the Japanese version, but I hope to do so someday.

2) ****SPOILER**** For many years, the legend existed that the Japanese version of the movie ended with Godzilla victorious whereas the American version ended with King Kong victorious. This story is merely a legend. In fact, the ending is somewhat ambiguous; though Kong is the only one we see walking away (or swimming away, as the case may be) from the fight, there is no clear winner designated; Godzilla is merely nowhere to be found.

3) This is probably the most light-hearted of the early Godzilla movies. In fact, the American version is a downright comedy most of the time. The Japanese version was more satirical, but some of the satire still shows through in the American version, particularly in the sequences having to do with the pharmaceutical company trying to get a monster to improve their ratings.

4) I’m amazed at the breadth of special effects in this movie; outside of the standard suitmation, they use puppets, real animals substituting for monsters, and even a bit of stop motion. Not all of it is done well, but I do admire the ambition behind it.

5) The story borrows heavily from the original KING KONG, with Kong once again discovered on an island of natives who worship him. He also gets loose in a big city, kidnaps a girl and scales a building with her. However, the sight of King Kong scaling a building that is no taller than himself is just a little bit ridiculous.

6) For me, the most disappointing thing in the movie is the Kong costume; sure, he’s not going to look as good as the stop-motion animated Kong of the original movie, but here he looks mangy and flea-bitten. I really think the costume could have been a lot better.

7) During the sequence where the submarine is suffering untold damage from the iceberg, we hear the admiral mutter the word “Great!” after hearing a particularly distressing bit of bad news. Feel free to mentally substitute any other one-syllable word that ends in a ‘t’ that you think might be appropriate for a man of the sea to mutter under those circumstances.

8) At the opening of the movie, we hear a news report about an earthquake in Chile. What this has to do with the rest of the movie is beyond me.

9) This may be one of the first of the Japanese monster movies to touch upon the love that children have for giant monsters. At one point, a little boy asks his mother if he can go see Godzilla. Gamera would milk this idea for all it was worth a few years later.

10) This was perhaps the first Godzilla movie I ever saw. To this day, it remains my favorite, even if I don’t consider it to be anywhere near the best of the series. Even now I thoroughly enjoy watching this one. So I’m going to throw in another list of ten items to end this one. Here are my ten favorite moments from the movie.

1) The explorers winning over the natives with a portable radio playing a peppy Japanese tune, followed by plying them with cigarettes. The chief than decides he will let them stay, but absolves himself of all responsibility if King Kong should eat them. Key line: “It’s okay! They’re all smoking!”

2) The UN reporter calls in a noted scientist to discuss Godzilla. The scientist uses a child’s book of dinosaurs as his main visual prop. The scientist also does a comparison of the relative brain power of King Kong and Godzilla. He uses a gorilla’s skull and a marble as his props. This guy is a hoot.

3) I love that the head of the pharmaceutical company throws a fit when Godzilla gets loose not because he fears for his life and property, but because he’s jealous of all the publicity Godzilla is getting.

4) The fight between King Kong and the octopus, though hardly convincing, is definitely a highlight of the picture.

5) I like the scene where we see the construction of a huge pit with which the military hopes to capture Godzilla. Quite frankly, I’ve always thought that was the neatest collection of construction toys I’ve ever seen in one place.

6) A man, upon hearing that King Kong is advancing on Tokyo, replies with conviction “We’d better leave….tonight!” Hey, why rush these things?

7) The native chant is one of the few pieces of music from the original soundtrack to remain on the American version; it’s also the best piece of music on the American version.

8) During the final fight, King Kong hits his head on a rock. You can practically see the birds flying around his head at this point.

9) Also during the fight, King Kong tries to shove a tree down Godzilla’s throat. Talk about making the best use of the landscape…

10)…and finally, the airlift sequence. There’s something about seeing King Kong strung up like a puppet (in a very uncomfortable-looking position, I might add) and carted around by balloons and helicopters that is almost sublimely ridiculous. It’s certainly one of the most memorable images in all of kaiju.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970)
Article #1097 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-16-2004
Posting Date: 8-13-2004
Directed by Ted Post
Featuring James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans

An astronaut on a rescue mission to find Taylor becomes stranded on the Planet of the Apes himself.

At heart, I’m fond of the whole “Planet of the Apes” cycle of movies; I was always a little impressed that the movies loop back on themselves, which gave the series as a whole a sense of completion. I suspect that it wasn’t initially planned that way, but I always liked that the decision was made to go in that direction.

However, I don’t place all of the movies on equal footing, and this is one I place fairly low. The first half of the movie plays somewhat like a bare-bones rehash of the original movie without that movie’s wit, while the second half with the bomb-worshipping mutants comes across as silly, especially during the worship sequence. Despite the fact that the movie does attempt to crack a joke occasionally, the movie takes itself several times more seriously than the original without ever becoming worthy of that seriousness, and at times the dialogue reminded me of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Several members of the original cast return for this one, though my favorite performance is from James Gregory as Ursus; it was fun to hear his distinct voice coming through that gorilla makeup. Other than that, I did enjoy spotting Victor Buono as one of the mutants, and I was also amused to see that Tod Andrews and Jeff Corey were in the cast. Charlton Heston is back for a few scenes, as well as Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Linda Harrison. Except for recycled footage from the original, Roddy McDowall is noticeably absent, however, though his character is still here (David Watson takes over the role); it would be the only movie of the series to lack his presence. Overall, the movie is a rather glum and gloomy addition to the series, and I think it lacks the fun that marks most of the other entries in the series.