Dracula Blows his Cool (1979)
aka Graf Dracula in Oberbayern
Article 6065 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Carl Schenkel
Featuring Gianni Garko, Betty Virges, Bea Fiedler
Country: West Germany / Italy
What it is: Dracula disco sexploitation comedy
A photographer who specializes in girlie magazines inherits a castle with the intent on turning it into a sexy disco hotel, unaware that his ancestors in the family crypt are vampires.
Let’s see, a Dracula disco sexploitation comedy? If you’re me, this sounds abysmal, and if I say I found it better than I expected it would be, it might simply be because my expectations were extremely low. So why did this one feel better than I expected. For one thing, some of the jokes worked; I was amused by the confusion between a giant phallus sculpture and a garden gnome at one point in particular. Secondly, though the movie is pretty bad, it doesn’t come off as desperate. Thirdly, the music didn’t annoy the hell out of me, a nice feat for a movie with “disco” in the title. Fourth, Dracula is not portrayed as a hapless buffoon, and his presence and situation adds a little depth to the proceedings. And finally, the plot in its second half veers the movie in the direction of satire when the presence of a vampire in the castle becomes a marketing tool for the hotel owners. No, the movie never really becomes good, but it does keep from being overly painful, and actually gave me some food for thought.
Article 6064 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Sompote Sands
Featuring Nard Poowanai, Ni Tien, Angela Wells
What it is: Another JAWS variant
Two men lose their families to a giant mutant crocodile, and they vow to destroy it.
No, it doesn’t follow the JAWS playbook religiously, but any movie about a man-killing aquatic animal whose second half consists of an extending sequence of a single boat in the middle of the sea doing battle with the title beastie is playing pretty close to the formula. And yes, this part of the movie works up a smidgeon of suspense, but only a smidgeon, and the fact that the movie seems intent on keeping the dialogue to a minimum only makes us feel that all of the characters are woefully undeveloped; JAWS got away with its final half by relying a great deal on well-developed characters. Most of the movie feels like filler; many of the scenes are unnecessary, and even the ones that are are stretched out too long. Special effects are also substandard. Another waste of time.
Dr. Jekyll’s Dungeon of Death (1979)
Article 6063 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by James Wood
Featuring James Mathers, John F. Kearney, Dawn Carver Kelly
What it is: Much scenery was chewed during the making of this movie.
A mad descendant of the original Dr. Jekyll experiments with a version of his ancestor’s serum enhanced by Nazis. He tries to get a sane scientist to help him out by kidnapping the latter’s daughter.
This is such a cheap and shoddy little movie that one is tempted to just point to its financial shortcomings and be done with it, but that’s a little too easy. As an example, I’ve seen the movie criticized for much of it being underlit, and though I’ve occasionally criticized some movies for that very reason, that’s not a problem here; because what you do see is sufficient for the purposes of the story. No, my problem comes down to the script in that a) the story is not well told and b) even if it were, it wouldn’t be worth telling. It’s one of those movies where you know where it’s going after the first ten minutes and that most of the time spent watching the movie is waiting for the end scene where practically everyone will die. There are at least two performers here who are way over the top, and perhaps the most impressive sequences (the martial arts fights) are marred by the fact that they don’t look anything like the rage-filled acts of violence the plot requires them to be and instead look just like choreographed martial arts fights. Ultimately, the movie is a bore and never even begins to look like it might not be. A waste of time.
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Article 6062 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Featuring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
What it is: The end of an era
Kirk and McCoy get framed for the murder of a Klingon High Chancellor, Spock and the rest of the Enterprise crew must solve the mystery and rescue their friends from a Klingon prison colony.
This movie more or less marked the end of the original “Star Trek” from the sixties and begins setting things up for the follow-up *Star Trek: The Next Generation”. It’s not as good as the second and fourth movies of the series, but a definite improvement over the fifth of the series. There are a few touches that don’t quite work, but overall, it’s a good story with strong direction and a decent script. The Shakespeare references get a bit tiresome after a while, but I do like the Peter Pan reference that ends the movie. And I wish there was more of David Warner in the movie, but you can’t always get what you want.
Devil Dog: The Hound from Hell (1978)
Article 6061 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Featuring Richard Crenna, Yvette Mimieux, Kim Richards
What it is: Not a good boy
A suburban family is given a puppy as a gift, but it turns out to be an evil force that possesses the family and kills anyone who threatens it.
What this TV-Movie amounts to is a variation of THE OMEN in which the Antichrist is replaced with a demon dog. And for what it is, it’s passable at best, I suppose, but there are some annoyances; there’s some silly dialogue and the score is truly tedious. It’s biggest problem is the snail’s pace of the story; quite frankly, you could ignore it for several minutes at a time and be confident you haven’t missed anything important. For a while I thought this was going to prove to be one of those TV-movies not intended as a pilot, but check in on the last five minutes and you’ll catch them setting it up. I’m glad they didn’t bite: imagine a version of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER in which characters less interesting than Kolchak chase the same monster every week.
Dr. Strange (1978)
Article 6060 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Philip DeGuere Jr.
Featuring Peter Hooten, Clyde Kusatsu, Jessica Walters
What it is: Failed series pilot, comic book subgenre
Ancient sorceress Morgan LeFey is sent to Earth by the forces of evil to prevent a sorcerer from passing his powers to his successor, thereby making sure an origin story doesn’t take place.
If the trivia section of IMDB is correct, this was one of Stan Lee’s favorites among the comic book adaptations he worked on during the seventies. It’s definitely a failed pilot; the movie makes all the moves you’d expect from something intended to launch one. However, the movie failed to garner much attention from an audience probably watching “ROOTS” at the time. Still, I do wonder if it would have flown as a series. In my own estimation, if they found a different score and were careful with the special effects, they might have pulled it off. In my own opinion, it’s okay at best, and I personally felt it was the type of story for which it would have been better to save for an era when the special effects had reached a higher level.