Kiss Me, Monster (1969)

KISS ME, MONSTER (1969)
aka Kuss mich, Monster
Article 2366 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-17-2007
Posting Date: 2-3-2008
Directed by Jesus Franco
Featuring Janice Reynaud, Rosanna Yanni, Adrian Hoven

Two girl detectives embark on a mission to find the secret formula of a doctor that can be used to create life.

I don’t think I’ve run into any comedies so far in my inadvertent exploration of the oeuvre of Jess Franco, but that’s what this movie appears to be. I also don’t think I can make any judgment on how effective Franco is at handling comedy; the print I have of this movie suffers from horrendous dubbing compounded by what appears to be a perfectly awful translation; every line sounds forced, awkward and unnatural, and the overall feel I had from watching this movie was that of having to follow a string of rather dull non sequiturs. Still, the odd joke comes through, and I do like the clever bit in which a windmill is used like a combination lock. Outside of that, the movie largely seems to demonstrate to me that Franco and I are on thoroughly different wavelengths as to what movies should be like, but I’ve suspected that for some time.

 

Advertisements

The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960)

THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE (1960)
aka Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse
Article 2365 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-16-2007
Posting Date: 2-2-2008
Directed by Fritz Lang
Featuring Dawn Addams, Peter van Eyck, Wolfgang Preiss

Though believed to have died in 1932, it appears that Dr. Mabuse is still alive and plotting evil. Police suspect that the center of operations is the Luxor Hotel, where many of the murder victims were known to have stayed before their deaths.

Lest we forget, the whole sixties cycle of Dr. Mabuse movies was kicked off by Fritz Lang himself, who directed this, his last movie, and cowrote the script. No, it’s not up to his earlier Dr. Mabuse movies, but it’s more subtle and sophisticated than the follow-ups made without Lang, though that doesn’t mean the sequels to this one are bad. This itself is a sequel to the THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE from 1932, which is referred to in the script and in the plot itself; the opening murder is a reprise of a murder sequence from that film. There’s a mystery element to this one; as you meet the residents of the hotel and the various interested parties, you know one of them is Mabuse himself, and that another is a secret detective assigned to the case. On top of the police commissioner played by Gert Frobe (not the same policeman he plays in the remake of the 1932 movie a few years later), we have a suicidal young woman, her doctor, a rich industrialist, a hotel detective, an insurance salesman, a blind spiritualist, and a jealous husband. The mystery element isn’t particularly puzzling; I rightly figured out who was who, though I was surprised by the fact that two of these people are one and the same. Dawn Addams is lovely, Gert Frobe and Peter Van Eyck both do fine work, and Wolfgang Preiss is excellent. The movie also features Howard Vernon as one of Mabuse’s hit men. The psychic provides some of the fantastic content, as does the implication that there’s something supernatural about Mabuse in the first place. The dubbing does detract a little from the proceedings, but overall, it is a worthwhile follow-up to the original Mabuse films.

 

The Terror of Dr. Mabuse (1962)

THE TERROR OF DR. MABUSE (1962)
aka Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse
Article 2364 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-15-2007
Posting Date: 2-1-2008
Directed by Werner Klingler
Featuring Gert Frobe, Senta Berger, Helmut Schmid

A series of crimes are being committed, and they point to the brilliant criminal mind of Dr. Mabuse. But Dr. Mabuse is committed to an insane asylum and has not been allowed to leave it. Could it be that he has developed a form of mind control…?

This was the fourth movie of the sixties revival of the Dr. Mabuse character, and also a remake of the 1933 Fritz Lang movie, THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE . Its lowly 5.4 rating on IMDB indicates that these movies aren’t highly regarded, and if you judge them in comparison with the Lang movies, I can understand that. I tend to look at them in comparison with the krimis, those semi-horrific German crime movies of the early sixties that are often based on works by Edgar Wallace, and to which these movies somewhat belong. Based on what I’ve seen of the Dr. Mabuse movies so far, they’re a cut above the other krimis; they’re coherent and quite exciting. I like this one even more than SCOTLAND YARD VS. DR. MABUSE ; Gert Frobe was an excellent choice to play the role of Inspector Lohmann, Wolfgang Preiss plays an intense and memorable Dr. Mabuse, and whoever plays the elegant main henchman (I think it may be Charles Regnier) practically steals the movie. I love some of the humor in this one; in particular, I like the moment when the henchman provides bus fare to some stranded guards. The henchman are actually well-differentiated rather than being faceless thugs, and this adds to the fun when the various criminal activities are committed. You should be able to recognize the actor who plays the disgraced policemen turned informer; it’s none other than Leon Askin, most famous for having played General Burkhalter on “Hogan’s Heroes”.

Personally, I find the sixties Dr. Mabuse movies to be a lot of fun.

 

The Magic Fountain (1961)

THE MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1961)
Article 2363 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-14-2007
Posting Date: 1-31-2008
Directed by Allan David
Featuring Peter Nestler, Helmo Kindermann, Joseph Marz

Three brothers set out on a quest to find a magic fountain whose water can heal their ailing father, the king. Two of the brothers are selfish and evil, and when the good brother manages to find the fountain, they plot to frame him, and take the water from the magic fountain for themselves.

This fairy tale is based on a story from the Brothers Grimm. IMDB claims that the movie is from the United States, but despite the narration by Cedric Hardwicke and voices by Hans Conried (as an owl) and Buddy Baer, this looks like a dubbed foreign movie. It’s probably German, as it was filmed in the Black Forest of Germany. It has its charms; the story makes for a decent fairy tale, and the presence of the above listed stars adds a bit of appeal, but the movie is rather tepid and static. In particular, a fight scene where the good prince defeats the army of a tyrant is incredibly unconvincing. It helped a little that this story was unfamiliar to me, rather than a rehash of an overly familiar one. Oddly enough, one of the alternate titles of this is SANTA’S MAGIC FOUNTAIN, and though there are two major characters that have long beards (the king and the dwarf), there’s no Santa to be found; perhaps there is another version with bumpers added featuring Santa Claus telling the story, which is something I’ve seen before. At any rate, this is fairly minor children’s fantasy.

 

Missile Monsters (1958)

MISSILE MONSTERS (1958)
Feature Version of serial FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS (1950)
Article 2362 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-13-2007
Posting Date: 1-30-2008
Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Featuring Kent Fowler, James Craven, Gregory Gaye

Martian combines forces with industrialist to take over world. Heroes try to prevent them. Fistfights.

What it is: Feature version of a serial, in this case, FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS.

Gets a point for the fact that a copy finally manifested itself after having been on my hunt list for years.

Gets a point for keeping the running time below eighty minutes.

Loses ten points for having been edited from a fairly weak serial to begin with.

Loses ten points because it has no monsters and precious little in the way of missiles.

Loses ten points for having the Martian spend most of the movie in earthling garb.

Loses ten points for being what it is in the first place.

Gets a point for having one person credited on IMDB as “Workman Overheard Talking About Bomb in Kent’s Plane”

Loses ten points for proving that nonstop action can be as dull as dishwater.

Loses ten points out of spite.

Total: not worth the investment of your time.

Tomorrow: a movie that doesn’t consist entirely of archive footage.

 

Girl in His Pocket (1957)

GIRL IN HIS POCKET (1957)
aka Un amour de poche
Article 2361 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-12-2007
Posting Date: 1-29-2008
Directed by Pierre Kast
Featuring Jean Marais, Genevieve Page, Jean-Claude Brialy

A scientist creates a formula that can turn any animal into a miniature figurine, and then a solution that can return them to their original form. in the process, he falls in love with a beautiful lab assistant, much to the consternation of his jealous fiance. They use the formula to cover up their activities from the fiance, but complications arise…

I have to admit that I never know quite what I’m getting into when I watch a French movie, but this was fairly easy to figure out. It’s a straightforward comedy. The gimmick that drives it is fairly amusing, and in general I quite enjoyed it, though it does get a little too obvious on occasion. I also was quite surprised to find that I was happy it was dubbed; this isn’t because I prefer dubbing to subtitles (I don’t); it’s merely because I prefer being able to understand a movie rather than having to struggle through another undubbed, unsubtitled foreign movie, an experience I’ve had too much of lately. The performances seem quite good and fairly spirited at least insofar as I can tell through the dubbing. All in all, it’s fairly innocuous, but it does have its charms.

 

1 April, 2000 (1952)

1 APRIL, 2000 (1952)
aka April 1, 2000
Article 2360 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-11-2007
Posting Date: 1-28-2008
Directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner
Directed by Hilde Krahl, Josef Meinrad, Waltraut Haas

In the year 2000, Austria declares its independence from the powers occupying it. A ‘World Protection Commission’ visits Austria to decide if Austria’s independence is a threat to world peace. Austria’s president argues his case by presenting the history of Austria.

I got the plot description by reading some of my books on movies and from comments on IMDB; since the movie was in unsubtitled German, I couldn’t figure out much of it from watching the movie itself. The movie reflected the situation in Austria at that time in history; it had been occupied by four other countries since World War II, and the movie was meant as its plea for independence. Still, I have a funny feeling that the movie was mostly about Austria praising itself, and that sort of thing can be quite tedious; however, not knowing what they’re saying keeps me from getting tired of the message, and I’m left to dwell on the visual aspects of this movie, which are often surreal and quite stunning. There are several memorable moments here, including a powerful sequence where a woman sees the grim reaper in her cup, followed by a full view of the reaper and a procession of what I suppose are the dead. There’s also a strange sequence where several of the characters momentarily turn into animals, and some of the costumes (especially those of certain people who I take to be reporters) are truly original (if rather silly). The high point of the movie comes early on though, and it is indelible; it is the arrival of the commission, which descends in what looks like a planet-shaped spaceship surrounded by orbiting moons, and lands amidst a flurry of what can only be described as parachuting Michelen men; this sequence is a classic. The movie is very good-natured, and it’s hard not to get caught up in the high spirits of the enterprise. Nonetheless, it’s a little too long, and I get quite bored towards the end of the movie. The movie features a performance from actor Curt Jurgens before he achieved international fame as an actor.