Bedlam in Paradise (1955)

Article 2658 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-22-2008
Posting Date: 11-22-2008
Directed by Jules White
Featuring Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Shemp Howard
Country: USA

Shemp dies when he swallows a thermometer. In order to keep from going to hell, he has to come back as an unseen ghost and reform Moe and Larry.

You won’t know how tempted I was to pull up my write-up of HEAVENLY DAZE and recycle it for this one; after all, this short amounts to a recycling of that one, even to the point that it borrows some of the original footage. Oh, there’s a few changes; the devil is now a further adversary to Shemp in his mission to reform the other Stooges, and Sylvia Lewis has a great part as a devilish woman who tries to tempt Shemp from his appointed task. At any rate, it’s just nice to see a Shemp Stooge short as a follow-up to a Joe Besser Stooge short; I’m afraid Besser was a poor follow-up to Shemp, much less Curly. At any rate, this is a solid (if very derivative) Three Stooges short.



The Black Pit of Dr. M (1959)

aka Misterios de ultratumba
Article 2553 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-1-2008
Posting Date: 8-8-2008
Directed by Fernando Mendez
Featuring Gaston Santos, Rafael Bertrand, Mapita Cortes
Country: Mexico

Two doctors make a pact that whomever dies first will return from the grave and give the other doctor the information on how to overcome death. However, the death of the first doctor brings about a series of events that will doom the other doctor.

I’m so used to having seen Mexican movies without dubbing or subtitles that I neglected to check for subtitling when I first watched this one, and I was rather confused by the story. However, I discovered afterwards that the movie had subtitles, but not wanting to sit through the whole thing again, I caught bits and pieces of it that helped to me to figure out the basic storyline. Whatever you can say about these Mexican horror movies, there’s no doubt that they’re brimming with horror atmosphere, and this one pulls out all the stops, with a ghostly presence inexorably guiding characters to their fates, a lunatic asylum, and a vengeance-driven acid-scarred man added to the mix. This is definitely one I’m going to watch again, and when I do, you can bet I’m going to make sure the subtitles are on for the whole thing.


The Bewitched Trunk (1904)

aka Le Coffre enchante
Article 2540 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-19-2008
Posting Date: 7-26-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies
Country: France

A magician performs amazing feats with a trunk.

No plot here; this, like THE VANISHING LADY, is merely movie-as-magic-trick; Melies uses special effects to give us a magic show, in which various people and things appear and disappear in a trunk. This one is a little disappointing largely because it’s not very ambitious; I’m a little surprised that he was still making movies like this after A TRIP TO THE MOON, but then, he didn’t make more than five hundred films by waiting around for inspiration to strike. This one is unremarkable, but fun nonetheless.


The Bewitched Inn (1897)

aka L’Auberge ensorcelee
Article 2531 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-10-2008
Posting Date: 7-17-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
Cast unknown, but that sure looks like Melies himself
Country: France

A man is plagued by strange events at an inn, where inanimate objects vanish and reappear, and his own clothes take on a life of their own.

I had already consigned this to my unfound list when the long-awaited appearance of a comprehensive Melies collection finally brought it to light. It’s an amusing little short, though a bit obvious nowadays, as the effects have been repeated many times since, and only recently I saw THE BEWITCHED TRAVELER, which owes something to this one. Still, I marvel at the gusto of Melies’s acting, and the comic effectiveness and timing of the various effects; though he had many imitators, there was no early filmmaker quite as fun as Melies.

As you might guess, I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks on reviews from this set, as many of these shorts have been on my hunt list for years. Viva Melies!


The Bewitched Traveller (1904)

Article 2528 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-6-2008
Posting Date: 7-14-2008
Directed by Cecil M. Hepworth
Cast unknown
Country: UK

A traveler finds his life plagued by mysterious disappearances and reappearances.

This is an early silent short that uses trick photography to tell its amusing story of a traveler who finds things vanishing around him, starting with tables, chairs and clothing, and then works itself up to coaches and trains, thereby frustrating his attempts to get anywhere. It’s quite well done, and it manages to work up to an effective ending which, in its way, is quite logical and even a little bit scary, though the movie is comic in tone. Another example of the creative early origins of cinema.


Blood Orgy of the She Devils (1972)

Article 2514 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-21-2008
Posting Date: 6-30-2008
Directed by Ted V. Mikels
Featuring Lila Zaborin, Victor Izay, Tom Pace
Country: USA

Mara is a witch who practices black magic and worships Satan. She does her thing until some white magicians decide to stop her.

Nice title, huh? Well, if you’re the sort of person who picked this one up on the strength of the title, I suggest you turn the DVD package over, take note of the PG rating, and then ask yourself just how bloodily orgiastic these she-devils are going to get. Still, you can’t blame them for giving it this title; calling it TALKY SNOOZEFEST OF THE SHE-DEVILS would have kept the audience away in droves. Actually, it’s not quite as bad as that, but it ain’t good. If the above plot description seems lame, then bear in mind that’s pretty much a good reflection of how I find the plot in this one. The major annoyance is Lila Zaborin’s performance; she never says her lines when she can DECLAIM them. The movie does try to be horrific on occasion, but it relies too much on women screeching and witch cliches (torture, a burning, a stoning) to have much impact. The movie does develop a hint of a story at one point when the witch is hired to perform a political assassination, but the plot is resolved too quickly and ultimately adds nothing more than running time to the film. The final battle between good and evil will stay with you almost until the credits roll. A sense of humor would have really helped here, but there is none. Mikel’s other horror movies aren’t classics, but they’re better than this one.


The Body Shop (1973)

aka Doctor Gore
Article 2500 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-7-2008
Posting Date: 6-16-2008
Directed by J.G. Patterson Jr.
Featuring J.G. Patterson Jr., Jenny Driggers, Roy Mehaffey
Country: USA

A mad scientist kills beautiful women and removes their body parts in order to construct the perfect woman.

If ever a movie looked like a tribute to the gore movies of Herschell Gordon Lewis, this is it. Director/star J.G. Patterson Jr. (aka Don Brandon) had even worked with Lewis before, in a variety of different capacities on several Lewis films, including MOONSHINE MOUNTAIN, HOW TO MAKE A DOLL and THE GRUESOME TWOSOME. It’s aggressively amateurish, extremely bloody, technically incompetent, but it does manage to have a sense of humor (at least some of the laughs seem to be intentional), and it even manages to improve on Lewis by having decent sound quality. I hope you really like the “Sugar and Spice” song that opens the movie; you will hear the melody endlessly throughout this. The movie also has no plot, as will be apparent when you reach the end of the movie. In short, the movie is awful. Patterson died in 1974, but it looks like another directorial effort of his called THE ELECTRIC CHAIR wasn’t released until 1977.