The Beastmaster (1982)

The Beastmaster (1982)

Article 6045 by Dave Sindelar

Date: 2-19-2022

Directed by Don Coscarelli

Featuring Marc Singer, Tanya Roberts, Rip Torn

Country: USA / West Germany

What it is: Dr. Doolittle meets Sword and Sorcery

A warrior with telepathic ability over animals faces off against an evil high priest.
Though I think it runs a good 25 minutes too long (I’d do some trimming during the first hour of the movie), it’s hardly the worst Sword and Sorcery movie I’ve seen, but it’s hardly the best either.  There’s enough here to make for a decent time-killer; the final battle is fairly exciting, the stunt work is pretty good (especially during a sequence in which a fight takes place on the steep sides of a pyramid), and I don’t have any major problems with the cast.  I also like that the leopard looks a bit odd, and no wonder; it was actually a tiger dyed black, though the dye doesn’t surround the mouth in some scenes.  My biggest problem with the movie is that the story isn’t really all that interesting; it’s a standard issue Sword and Sorcery story.  Oddly enough, the opening prophecy turns out to not quite come true, but I suppose bringing a ferret into it would have only drawn laughs.

Beyond Evil (1980)

Beyond Evil (1980)
Article 6044 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-13-2022
Directed by Herb Freed
Featuring John Saxon, Lynda Day George, Michael Dante
Country: USA
What it is: Witch possession

An architect and his wife move to an island and take up residence in a mansion believed to be haunted by a witch. The wife begins acting strangely…

You know, if your horror movie is traversing a much-worn plot path, it takes quite a bit of inspiration and novelty value to keep things fresh. And there are a few touches here that do add a bit of novelty to the proceedings, the most interesting one here being the role a wedding ring plays in the outcome. Unfortunately, any fresh ideas here can’t alleviate the lethargic unfolding of the story (which includes far too many vague and awkward conversations in which nothing is revealed) and its inability to mine suspense from the situation because it doesn’t realize that the audience is probably two steps ahead at every point. The end result is another one of those by-the-numbers horror movies that have minimum impact if any at all.

The Beast Within (1982)

The Beast Within (1982)
Article 6043 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-6-2022
Directed by Philippe Mora
Featuring Ronnie Cox, Bibi Besch, Paul Clemens
Country: USA
What it is: Doesn’t quite work thanks to editing

A woman is raped by something or someone in the woods. Seventeen years later, her son begins undergoing a physical change. Is this the result of the earlier event?

This was one of those movies whose ad campaigns I remember from the time it was released. The campaign emphasized the grotesque nature of a transformation sequence that takes place in the final third of the movie, and this made me suspect that the movie was really only going to be a so-so variant of a werewolf movie. Having now seen it, I ended up enjoying it a lot more than I thought I would, largely because most of the movie concerns itself with solving the mystery of the secret scandal of a small southern town, which is one of those types of plot to which I am partial. Still, I had the feeling that this plot and the one involving the transformation of the boy wouldn’t quite mesh, and I still felt so by the end of the movie.

However, I have a habit of reviewing the trivia section of IMDB when I finish watching a movie, and I discovered that the scene in which the scandal finally comes to light was severely cut, removing some information that ties the two sides of the movie together. So this movie is another example of how important editing is in the building of a movie. However, I know there is a longer version of this movie, and that may be the one to catch. And the transformation sequence is indeed memorable.

Big Bad Sindbad (1952)

Big Bad Sindbad (1952)
Article 6036 by Dave Sindelar
12-20-2021
Directed by Seymour Kneitel, Willard Bowsky and Dave Fleischer
Featuring the voices of Jackson Beck, Jack Mercer and Mae Questel
Country: USA
What it is: Popeye the Recycler Man

While on a visit to a museum, Popeye tells his nephews about his encounter with Sindbad the sailor.

IMDB calls this the final cartoon directed by Dave Fleischer, but that hides a not-so-secret secret about this cartoon, which is to say that it mostly consists of footage from the 1936 opus, POPEYE THE SAILOR MEETS SINDBAD THE SAILOR, arguably the best Popeye short. And I suppose if you wanted to catch highlights of that one rather than watching the complete sixteen minute cartoon, you might opt for this one. Still, I really find it rather tedious finding yet another Famous Studios cartoon that cuts corners by recycling earlier and better cartoons. I’ve already covered the earlier cartoon; this version is a unneeded redux.

Boy Meets Dog (1938)

Boy Meets Dog (1938)
Article 6026 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-14-2021
Directed by Walter Lantz
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc, Billy Bletcher, June Foray
Country: USA
What it is: Cartoon Comeuppance and Dental Commercial

A tyrannical father is knocked unconscious and dreams that pixies put him on trial for cruelty and failure to encourage proper dental care.

This is a rather weird cartoon from the Walter Lantz studio.  The title refers to a minor plot element in the story; the main thrust of the story is how a tyrannical father is taught a lesson when he has a dream that the pixies in a painting kidnap him and take him to trial.  On top of that, the cartoon is packed with references to dental hygiene, and in fact the cartoon was made for Bristol-Myers to plug their toothpaste.  On top of that, it’s pretty bizarre; a lot of the pixies seem to be doing celebrity impressions and the trial sequence is full of bizarre non-sequiturs.  Though it makes for an interesting viewing experience, it feels like an undisciplined mess at times.  

Bold King Cole (1936)

Bold King Cole (1936)
Article 6016 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-10-2021
Directed by Burt Gillett
Featuring the voices of Walter Tetley and Gus Wickie
Country: USA
What it is: Van Beuren cartoon

Felix the cat seeks refuge from a terrible thunderstorm in the castle of Old King Cole, whose bragging has upset the spirits that inhabit his paintings. The latter take Old King Cole hostage in order to teach him not to brag so much. Can Felix save the king?

Felix lost a lot of his appeal after he made the transition to sound, and the fact that his cartoons were made by Van Beuren (the weakest of the cartoon studios) only makes things worse. That being said, this one is a little better than usual for the series at this time, though it seems to spend less time with Felix than with Old King Cole. The plot is a bit novel at any rate, and with a whole gaggle of ghosts running around, it at least has some horror content. Still, this only a mediocre cartoon.

The Andromeda Breakthrough (1962)

The Andromeda Breakthrough (1962)
Article 5772 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-17-2020
Directed by John Elliott and John Knight
Featuring Peter Halliday, Susan Hampshire, Noel Johnson
Country: UK
What it is: British limited run series

A multi-national corporation combines forces with a newly-liberated middle eastern country with the intent of using a computer developed from alien technology. Toward that end, they kidnap scientists associated with an earlier project to work with the computer. However, complications arise…

The opening episode of this six-part British miniseries left me feeling I was dropped into the middle of a story rather than beginning a new one, but there’s a reason for that; this miniseries is a sequel to an earlier one called A FOR ANDROMEDA. I’d love to see the earlier series, but from what I gather, only one of the episodes is extant. Nevertheless, I rather enjoyed this series even without having seen the earlier one; it tells a complex story and is peopled with complex characters. It isn’t quite up to the level of the Nigel Kneale series from this era, but it’s solid and entertaining.

Bugs’ and Daffy’s Carnival of the Animals (1976)

Bugs’ and Daffy’s Carnival of the Animals (1976)
aka Carnival of the Animals
Article 5758 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-3-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones, Herbert Klynn, Gerry Woolery
Featuring Michael Tilson Thomas and the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: TV special with Bugs and Daffy

Bugs and Daffy are competing pianists in performance of Camille Saint-Saens’ “Carnival of the Animals”.

Since the presence of anthropomorphic animals alone is not sufficient for me to declare an animated work as being genre, there’s a distinct possibility I will not be covering ALL of the seventies TV specials which featured Looney Tunes characters. In fact, I was half expecting not to cover this one, but the fact that one of the sections of the “Carnival of the Animals” concerns fossils, we get some fleeting images of dinosaurs, which is sufficient for me to include it. Though I am tempted to compare and contrast it with BUGS BUNNY IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT, I really can’t, because this one is rather a different animal from that one. This one isn’t a full-blooded attempt to emulate the Looney Tunes world, but rather it merely grafts a certain element of that world (the rivalry between Bugs and Daffy) onto a performance (with animated inserts) of the musical piece. In fact, I do wonder if the Bugs/Daffy animation was a late addition to the mix; they may have been added to add a little more commercial appeal to a project that would otherwise prove a bit too refined for a TV audience. The best thing about this as a whole is that musically the piece is well performed and the conductor is quite charismatic, though I should point out that only portions of the work are featured. The animation for the pieces that does not involve Bugs and Daffy (and was directed by Herbert Klynn) is passable but not particularly memorable. As for the Bugs and Daffy footage, it’s disappointing; it mostly consists of multiple repeats of the “Bugs gets the applause and Daffy gets the crickets” gag and a tiresome argument about the pronunciation of the composer’s name.

Butterscotch and Soda (1948)

Butterscotch and Soda (1948)
Article 5756 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-29-2020
Directed by Seymour Kneitel
Featuring the voices of Mae Questel and Amanda Randolph
Country: USA
What it is: Little Audrey cartoon

When Little Audrey is caught neglecting her regular meals in favor of gobs of candy, she is locked in her room with all of the candy removed. Then she starts to go into ….withdrawal.

At one point in this cartoon, Little Audrey is desperately hunting for candy in her locked room, and she looks up at the light fixture on the ceiling and sees the shape of a bag of candy in it. Immediately, a whistle went off in my head, and I found myself heading to IMDB to see if my suspicion was true, and indeed it was; this cartoon was referencing THE LOST WEEKEND, which also explains the hallucinations Little Audrey starts having. This bit of cleverness is the high point of this cartoon, which in other ways is very similar to the Little Lulu cartoon A BOUT WITH A TROUT; in each one, the main character has a bizarre fever dream in which they learn the error of their ways. Actually, the similarity between the two characters may not be a coincidence; Famous Studios made Little Audrey the replacement for Little Lulu when they decided to not continue purchasing the rights for the latter. This cartoon is actually fairly good, but it is marred by the presence of a racial stereotype with the black mammy character on display here.

Bunny Hugged (1951)

Bunny Hugged (1951)
Article 5755 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-28-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and John T. Smith
Country: USA
What it is: Bugs Bunny cartoon

Bugs’ career as the mascot of wrestler Ravishing Ronald is in jeopardy when his employer is being pummeled by a wrestler known as The Crusher. He decides to take his employer’s place in the ring.

This cartoon is something of a remake of 1948’s cartoon RABBIT PUNCH, in which Bugs takes on a boxer. This one switches the milieu to the wrestling arena and takes a few potshots at the theatricality of the sport; in particular, the introduction of Ravishing Ronald (a parody of wrestler Gorgeous George) is pretty amusing. Like BULLY FOR BUGS, the only fantastic content is Bugs himself, but its listing in the Walt Lee guide ensures it review. It’s not quite up to the level of BULLY FOR BUGS, and I know quite a few people prefer RABBIT PUNCH, but this one has its moments; my favorite moment has Bugs employing a bank vault door in a strategy to win the match. This one is solid and entertaining.