L’Abeille et la rose (1908)

aka The Bee and the Rose

Article 3564 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-25-2011
Posting Date: 5-18-2011
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Early silent fantasy

A bee wanders away from the hive and is threatened by a spider.

I really should have covered this one when I had my Chomon-a-thon some time back, as it was on my hunt list at that time, but sometimes it takes a while for me to reconcile recent acquisitions with my hunt list, especially when the titles I find are only in foreign languages. There’s really not a lot to this one; the bees are played by ballerinas, and most of the emphasis is on the dancing, and it’s a bit of shame my copy of the movie has no music on it. The spider attack scene is short, and the foe is easily dispensed. It does have some enjoyable special effects, however.


Andalusian Superstition (1912)

aka Superstition andalouse
Article 3475 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-13-2011
Posting Date: 2-18-2011
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
Cast unknown
Country: France / Spain
What it is: Drama with fantastic elements

A woman drives away a gypsy that is trying to beg coins off of her lover. She then envisions the gypsy’s revenge.

This short movie saves most of its special effects for the end, when the woman’s lover is trapped in a strange room with bottles containing various nightmarish demons. Yet there is one special effect early on that is particularly striking. When the woman begins to envision the gypsy’s revenge in her mind, it opens with the woman’s face as she ponders, and then her face moves nearer to us while the background remains static. This is not a new trick; I’m willing to bet it’s similar to the one used by Melies in THE MAN WITH THE RUBBER HEAD. What makes it striking here is that the purpose of the trick is to give us a sense of her mental state, and I don’t recall a movie from before this date that used special effects for that purpose before. The story is also pretty good, and this is another of Chomon’s shorts that is really worth seeing.

Axe (1977)

AXE (1977)
aka Lisa, Lisa
Article 3440 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-6-2010
Posting Date: 1-14-11
Directed by Frederick R. Friedel
Featuring Leslie Lee, Jack Canon, Ray Green
Country: USA
What it is: Sadists and disturbed girls

Three criminals decide to lay low in the country when they rough up a victim so badly they kill him. They choose as their hideout a remote farmhouse only populated by a young woman and her paralyzed grandfather. They decide to molest the young woman, unaware that she’s not quite sane… and knows how to use farm tools.

This gory but extremely low budget movie actually comes across better than I thought it would, thanks in part by some creative film editing and sharp use of music and sound. It also taps into that sleazy, nasty atmosphere that is probably its primary appeal to some. Unfortunately, the movie drags, and for a movie that runs only 68 minutes, that’s bad; several of the scenes run on far longer than they should, and any movie which stretches out about thirty seconds worth of closing credits to five minutes is a movie desperately trying to pad itself. The movie has its roots in the works of Herschell Gordon Lewis (Producer J.G. Patterson Jr. worked with Lewis on occasion and helmed the Lewis-inspired THE BODY SHOP), but in terms of the gore, this one is much tamer. And it doesn’t quite live up to its “At Last, Total Terror” tagline.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

Article 3439 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-5-2010
Posting Date: 1-13-2011
Directed by John Landis
Featuring David Naughton, Jenny Agutter, Griffin Dunne
Country: UK / USA
What it is: Werewolf movie

Two young American men are attacked by a werewolf while walking the moors in northern England. One dies and finds his soul trapped in limbo; the other survives and carries the curse of the werewolf.

I first saw this movie on commercial TV, and now having seen the theatrical version, I’m definitely classifying this one as one of those movies that can’t survive the bowdlerization necessary to make it palatable on commercial TV. Still, I don’t find myself quite as taken with this movie as some others, mostly because John Landis’s comic style blows hot and cold for me, and though I smile sometimes at the humor in this movie, I never laugh. However, I’m really taken with some of the other aspects of the movie. The transformation sequence is a truly amazing piece of work. The modifications to the werewolf myth are very interesting; I particularly like the fact that the werewolf is haunted by the limbo-consigned spirits of his victims. I think the movie also shows real cleverness in handling cliches; though the ominous villagers in the pub cliche is here in all its glory, they’re given more dimension and variety than I usual find, making them more than a hoary old plot device. And I have to admit to a taking a certain satisfaction at Landis’s decision to turn one standard movie setpiece on its ear; many movies tend to glorify the multiple-car-crash cliche by unrealistically having no pedestrians hurt in the process, but this movie offers no such easy out. By the way, that’s Muppet wrangler Frank Oz as the ambassador, and SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY is a porno film.

The Amazing Captain Nemo (1978)

aka The Return of Captain Nemo
Article 3428 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-23-2010
Posting Date: 1-2-2011
Directed by Alex March and Paul Stader
Featuring Jose Ferrer, Burgess Meredith, Mel Ferrer
Country: USA
What it is: Underwater Sci-Fi, Irwin Allen style

Captain Nemo is revived from suspended animation, and with the aid of his submarine, the Nautilus, he helps the U.S. government to do battle with an evil super-genius named Professor Cunningham and his submarine, the Raven.

I ran into some contradictory descriptions of what this movie actually was, but it looks like it was designed as a three episode pilot for a prospective series that was then edited into a movie, and that’s pretty much how it feels and looks. I didn’t see Irwin Allen’s name on the credits, but I certainly wasn’t surprised to discover he was executive producer; between the silly melodramatics and the eye candy, he’s got his fingerprints all over it. I’ve never seen a movie before that had both Jose Ferrer and Mel Ferrer together, and I was quite surprised to discover that they were not related; nevertheless, I had a little fun watching the two actors pair off in a duel. The most interesting performance is from Burgess Meredith, who vacillates between intriguingly offbeat (his supervillain chews on his glasses and is far more rumpled than any self-respecting supervillain should be) and scenery-chewing melodramatics (especially when his dialogue calls for it). He even references one of his episodes from “The Twilight Zone” at one point. Overall, it’s fun if rather stupid, but as a TV series, it would have gotten old very quickly. IMDB credits 8 writers, including the obvious Jules Verne and the surprising Robert Bloch.

Arzt ohne Gewissen (1959)

aka The Private Clinic of Professor Lund
Article 3421 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-15-2010
Posting Date: 12-26-2010
Directed by Falk Harnack
Featuring Ewald Balser, Wolfgang Preiss, Barbara Rutting
Country: West Germany
What it is: Nazi doctor drama

A respected professor and surgeon comes under suspicion when it is discovered his assistant is a former Nazi.

The above plot description I cobbled together from what I could make out of the movie along with a short plot description at allmovies.com. My copy is in unsubtitled German, and it was only with the help of this plot description that I was able to avoid getting totally lost. Still, I did get lost enough at times, and I do know that not only was the assistant a former Nazi, but he is still engaged in highly questionable practices; there is a kidnapping of a woman at one point, and there is a plot about a patient at the clinic trying to make a desperate escape. The scenes are engaging enough that I really hope some day to see it dubbed or subtitled, so I can get the full effect of the movie. There are touches of horror and science fiction around the edges; the clinic is in a rather spooky castle, and I think they’re planning a heart transplant at one point in the proceedings. At any rate, I’ll have to reserve judgment on this one.

Anima Persa (1977)

aka Forbidden Room
Article 3402 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-26-2010
Posting Date: 12-7-2010
Directed by Dino Risi
Featuring Vittorio Gassman, Catherine Deneuve, Danilo Mattei
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Drama/mystery with touches of horror

A young aspiring artist goes to Venice to study, and moves in with his aunt and uncle. He discovers a room in their dilapidated mansion, and in that room is a family secret…

This movie seemed to have an unusually high-powered cast for what seems on the surface a fairly hackneyed story of the mad-relative-in-the-attic variety. However, I don’t feel like I’m engaging in spoilers by giving away that plot element; the movie itself reveals that information early enough that it doesn’t give away the ending. Of course, by giving away that information early on, the movie clues you in that there’s more here than the familiar scenario, and sure enough, you find yourself given bits and pieces of backstory that really starts to pique your interest. You seen get caught up in the various mysteries; what drove the relative mad? What was the actual fate of the aunt’s daughter? Why is the aunt so scared of the uncle? The solution is complex and very sad. In the end, it’s more of a drama than a horror movie, but the theme of madness is prevalent. All in all, this one is fairly interesting.