A Cat’s Tale (1951)

A CAT’S TALE (1951)
aka The Cat’s Tale
Article 4586 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-22-2014
Directed by Mannie Davis
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Mighty Mouse cartoon

A nervous cat, scared of mice and with a bad smoking habit, tells us the reason for his fear.

I’m not surprised there was one of these floating around somewhere, but I suppose it was inevitable; it’s a Mighty Mouse origin story. As a baby he’s left on the doorstep of an old mouse couple by a shadowy figure who may be a witch of some sort; the cartoon never clarifies this exactly, but from the looks of that green, wrinkled hand, that’s my guess. It turns out that the mouse has super powers, and soon becomes the terror of all the cats. From there, it veers into typical Mighty Mouse territory; the cats find a giant cat to do away with Mighty Mouse, and the cartoon mostly follows their battle. Despite its status as an origin story, this is pretty run-of-the-mill stuff; neither the origin story nor the final battle are of much interest. For the record, this one lacks the operetta trappings of some of the more fun Mighty Mouse cartoons.

The Gory Murder (1978)

aka Can ku da fen shi
Article 4585 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-21-2014
Directed by Yi-Jung Hua
Featuring Chiang-neng Chen, Yi-hsing Chen, Yung-Li Chen
Country: Hong Kong
What it is: Crime thriller

The police discover the dismembered corpse of a women. They must try to discover her identity, and find out who was responsible for her death.

Some movies are hard to watch. In this case, it’s not so much the unpleasant subject matter (which involves a serial rapist), but rather the presentation of the movie that is the culprit. The movie was originally in Cantonese, but it’s been very badly post-dubbed, and I’m not sure whether it’s been dubbed into its own language or into another. Fortunately, it has English subtitles, but they don’t show up well on the print (they vanish against a white background, for example), and since I seem to be watching a panned-and-scanned version, some of the text is missing. Furthermore, the movie is full of bad sound and has a jarring musical score. Combined altogether, these make watching the movie a difficult, sometimes headache-inducing experience. Still, from what I can make out, it’s not really a horror movie; most of it plays out like a police procedural. Still, the murder details are horrific, and a scene where the murderer undergoes guilt hallucinations (body parts jumping out in front of him, hands coming through the walls) does offer some horror content. It’s often incoherent, and I suspect chunks of the story are missing. I don’t think the movie itself is worthless, but it certainly doesn’t transcend the painful process of watching it.

Krazy Magic (1938)

aka Krazy’s Magic
Article 4584 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-20-2014
Directed by Manny Gould and Ben Harrison
Featuring the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Krazy Kat cartoon

Krazy Kat and his girl Kitty take refuge from a storm in a creepy house where they are subjected to tricks by an invisible magician.

The original Krazy Kat was the central character of one of the most significant comic strips of the first half of the last century, but in the Columbia cartoons based on the character, he is little more than a Mickey Mouse clone. Furthermore, Columbia was a little slower than some of the other studios at making its cartoon input more sophisticated, so this one feels like one from the first half of the thirties rather than the later half. It’s mostly just a set of surreal gags that aren’t particularly funny or focused; the same setup has been used more effectively by other cartoons. Still, if you’ve developed a tolerance for cartoons of this ilk, it’s watchable enough.

The Devil’s Plaything (1973)

aka Veil of Blood, Der Fluch der schwarzen Schwestern
Article 4583 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-18-2014
Directed by Joseph W. Sarno
Featuring Nadia Henkowa, Anke Syring, Ulrike Butz
Country: Sweden / Switzerland / West Germany
What it is: Vampire sexploitation

Several guests arrive at a castle that used to house a lesbian vampire who was executed four hundred years ago. However, the residents of the castle are engaged on having the vampire manifest herself in the body of another so she can seek vengeance on the descendants of those that executed her… and the guests are those descendants.

With a movie like this, you end up asking yourself this question; is it a horror movie with sex, or is it sexploitation with horror? Given that the director is Joseph W. Sarno, it’s obviously the latter. I saw the 85 minute version, which apparently cuts out eighteen minutes of orgies and sex, so I suspect that this shorter version is for people who are more interested in watching it for its horror elements. Still, even in this form, it’s primarily sexploitation, and it’s more interesting on that level than it is as a horror movie. On the latter level, it’s pretty dull; it’s mostly people slowly walking around with vacant expressions on their faces talking in heavy accents; there’s little suspense or tension, and though it may be trying to rely on mood, there’s little variation on that mood to make it interesting. I’m afraid I had little use for this one.

Macabre (1980)

MACABRE (1980)
aka Macabro, Frozen Terror
Article 4582 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Lamberto Bava
Featuring Bernice Stegers, Stanko Molnar, Veronica Zinny
Country: Italy
What it is: Horror thriller

An adulterous married woman spends a year in an institution after having been traumatized by a car accident in which her lover was decapitated. After being released, she moves into the apartment where she was meeting her lover, and continues with the affair…

This is the directorial feature film debut for Mario Bava’s son, Lamberto Bava. He does a decent job here, but he’s hardly the stylist his father was, and the movie suffers from some pacing problems; still, it is a solid debut. If you read the plot description above, you’re probably suspecting that there’s something distinctly unhealthy (to use the mild euphemism) going on in this movie, and you’d be right; however, I won’t go into any details because the whole thrust of the movie is to bring those details to light. Suffice it to say that it all has something to do with what is locked in the freezer door of a refrigerator. Incidentally, the woman is not the only character involved in sick behavior here; her daughter is proof that the nuts don’t fall too far from the tree, and you’ll see how twisted she is during the first few minutes of the movie. The movie is supposedly based on a true story that actually did take place in New Orleans (where the movie is set), and except for one last-second supernatural nod, I suppose it could have happened. But as for that supernatural nod, it can be either seen as pretty silly or weirdly logical depending on your mood; I could go either way with it myself.

Filmgore (1983)

Article 4581 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-16-2014
Directed by Ken Dixon
Featuring Cassandra Peterson
Country: USA
What it is: Footage from other movies

Elvira serves as host to a compilation of clips from gory movies from the sixties to the early eighties.

Before I start on this movie, I’d like to say that I have in my collection a made-for-video tape called HORRIBLE HORROR. It is hosted by Zacherley and consists of footage from (mostly) bad movies made from the thirties to the sixties. As a serious movie, it is inconsequential. Nonetheless, I rather enjoy watching it because I like the antics of Zacherley and since I’m personally fond of the types of movies he covers, I enjoyed watching the clips.

I bring this up because, at heart, this made-for-video feature is pretty much the same sort of thing; it’s clips of movies with a horror host. The main difference lies in the emphasis of the clips; in HORRIBLE HORROR it’s concentrating on cheesy black-and-white films, while this one concentrates on clips of movies with extreme gore, violence and blood-letting. Therein lies the reason I don’t care for this one; I may be a fan of those old black and white movies, but I’m not a fan specifically of extreme gore. Oh, I can deal with it; anybody who covers horror movies from the last fifty years has to contend with it. The trouble is, I never go into a movie HOPING it will be really gory, and this compilation is primarily for people who ARE hoping for that. I like Elvira all right, but she’s not at her best here, and despite the fact that she is constantly interrupting the movies with puns and bad jokes, she seems somewhat disconnected from the process. Forrest J. Ackerman is credited as one of the writers, and he no doubt penned Elvira’s opening speech, but I’m not sure about the rest of it. Granted, the whole thing consists of nothing but clips and jokes; there’s no narration to give the thing context, so you have to take it on the face value of its title. And in that case, I do find some of the choices rather curious; there’s really not much gore in either THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES or FIEND. This is for gorehounds only.

Fantasies (1982)

Article 4580 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-15-2014
Directed by William Wiard
Featuring Suzanne Pleshette, Barry Newman, Robert Vaughn
Country: USA
What it is: Thriller

Actors in a soap opera are being knocked off by a serial killer. Who is the killer, and why are they doing this?

Easily the best moment in this TV-Movie is the ending, and I don’t mean by that the resolution of the story line. I mean there’s a final little “perception change” (I can’t quite call it a twist) in the last few seconds of the movie. This moment manages to effectively underline the basic theme of the movie, which is how a TV show or a movie can become so real to some people that they lose grasp that the show is an illusion; there’s an earlier scene that also illustrates this where one of the actresses in the show is accosted by a stranger in a grocery store who treats her like she’s the character she’s playing. I wish the rest of the movie was that intriguing, but, in truth, I find that for the most part it’s one of those movies where competence and professionalism take the place of inspiration; there’s something utterly mundane in the way the movie trots out the usual red herrings and plot contrivances, though it doesn’t necessarily do them badly. Quite frankly, this is a movie that could have used a few more real surprises to make it really good. The serial killer plot is what makes it marginal horror.