Bog (1983)

BOG (1983)
Article 2928 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2009
Posting Date: 8-20-1009
Directed by Don Keeslar
Featuring Gloria DeHaven, Aldo Ray, Marshall Thompson
Country: USA

A monster has been awakened from the local lake, and it’s searching for human females so it can breed.

This cheap and rather goofy movie is like a throwback to the cheapies from the fifties and sixties; at one time or another, I found myself comparing it to ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES, DESTINATION INNER SPACE and BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. The monster is a hoot, and the cast of familiar old-timers (Gloria DeHaven, Aldo Ray, Marshall Thompson and Leo Gordon) just adds to the quaintness of the whole affair. The dialogue is often hilarious; my favorite line is “We’ll get the fire department. They’ve got hoses. They’ll spray anything. ” It also has a ludicrous script and truly amateurish editing. It’s also shot in Wisconsin, which, to horror movie fans, could be called Bill Rebane country, but I find this one a lot more cuddly than any of Rebane’s movies. All in all, this is one of the more entertaining stinkers I’ve seen.

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Blood Bath (1976)

BLOOD BATH (1976)
Article 2927 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-14-2009
Posting Date: 8-19-2009
Directed by Joel M. Reed
Featuring Harve Presnell, Jack Somack, Curt Dawson
Country: USA

The cast of a horror film tell each other scary stories one night. In the first, a hit man has a job go awry. In the second, a man tries to get rid of his wife with a coin that grants wishes. In the third, a ghost decides to haunt the man who was responsible for his death. In the fourth, a martial arts expert must face a final challenge when he betrays his promise not to use his powers for money. In the wraparound story, it turns out the director of the horror film has a secret of his own…

Director Joel Reed is primarily famous for having given us BLOODSUCKING FREAKS, a paean to the exploitation, torture and murder of women that is as mean-spirited as it is incompetent. I feel sorry for any fans of that movie searching this one out in the hopes of getting more of the same; its PG rating should be warning enough that this is going to be mild stuff indeed. It’s no where near as nasty, it’s not one-tenth as misogynistic, and it’s even somewhat more competent. It’s not “bloodless” as some people claim; there’s a little blood, but you’d probably find more in your average Hammer horror movie. It’s worst problem is that it’s rather tired and uninspired. Perhaps the most surprising thing to me, though, was that I actually thought one of the stories was pretty good; the story about the ghost of the black man who decides to haunt the skinflint who caused his death (a series of circumstances brought about by the skinflint repossessing the ghost’s car) is actually amusing enough that I wish the presentation was better. This story even has one of the better twist endings here; the rest of them are rather obvious.

The Bubble (1966)

THE BUBBLE (1966)
aka Fantastic Invasion of the Planet Earth
Article 2911 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-27-2009
Posting Date: 8-2-2009
Directed by Arch Oboler
Featuring Michael Cole, Deborah Walley, Johnny Desmond
Country: USA

A plane makes an emergency landing in order to get a pregnant woman to a hospital. The passengers of the plane discover that the residents of the town they are in are acting strangely, and they soon discover that the whole area is surrounded by a sphere so that no one can leave.

Arch Oboler had a hit with the first full-length movie in 3-D, BWANA DEVIL. Here he is, returning to the process 14 years later (though it’s redubbed “space vision” here), long after the 3-D craze had passed. One of the main attractions here is that the movie really works the 3-D angle; one almost expects Dr. Tongue to appear. Unfortunately, the story is an exercise in frustration. It starts out well enough due to the mysterious premise, but it’s another one of those movies which is cluttered with character-developing moments. Now, there really is nothing wrong with character development if the characters are essential to the movie or help drive the plot in some way, but here, it feels more like an attempt to pad the film than anything else. It also doesn’t help that we’re given nothing in the way of concrete answers; we get endless speculation on insufficient evidence, and even when a new wrinkle to the mystery shows up, it’s just another thing that will fail to be resolved or explained. Those who get off on existentialism might like this one, though I most recommend it for those who like to see things like brooms come right out of the screen at them.

The Brotherhood of the Bell (1970)

THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BELL (1970)
TV-Movie
Article 2909 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-25-2009
Posting Date: 7-31-2009
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Featuring Glenn Ford, Rosemary Forsyth, Dean Jagger
Country: USA

A professor who is a member of a secret society is given an assignment to prevent a colleague from accepting an offered position. When the professor is forced to use blackmail to accomplish this, the colleague commits suicide. Devastated by guilt, the professor vows to bring the society out in the open and reveal the conspiracy.

It occurred to me about halfway through in watching this movie that a conspiracy movie like this must seem deceptively simple to write; once you’ve established the power of the secret society, you can just ride the waves of building paranoia that come in the wake of not knowing who you can trust. The problem comes in coming up with an ending that a) works within the ground rules you’ve set down about the reach and power of the society, b) is not obvious (such as, having the conspiracy win) and c) and is satisfying; basically, once you’ve got the paranoia ball rolling, it’s hard to stop. Therefore, I’m not surprised that the ending of this movie is a disappointment; given all that went before, it’s just rather lame. However, that doesn’t change the fact that, up to that point, this is one very effective TV-Movie. This is due to the excellence of the cast (with Glenn Ford doing a fantastic job as the professor, as well as particularly memorable turns from Will Geer and William Conrad) and the fact that the script refuses to just blithely ride the paranoia wave, as some of the events that happen show real creativity and a certain degree of ambiguity. It’s one of those TV-Movies that doesn’t feel like one; nor does it feel like a failed pilot for a potential series. The talk show sequence of this movie was apparently based on “The Joe Pyne Show”, though it made me think of the type of talk show represented by Jerry Springer. I’m not entirely sure about the fantastic content here, though the idea of a secret society controlling the power and money of the world certainly verges on both science fiction and horror territory.

Brave New World (1980)

BRAVE NEW WORLD (1980)
TV-Movie
Article 2905 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-21-2009
Posting Date: 7-27-2009
Directed by Burt Brinckerhoff
Featuring Keir Dullea, Bud Cort, Kristoffer Tabori
Country: USA

In the future, people are bred to belong to select classes and are kept happy through the ingestion of a drug called soma. When an alpha male and a beta female visit a primitive colony on a vacation, they set off a chain of events in which a civilized man, brought up as a savage, is taken out of his setting and introduced to the world of the civilized men.

It’s been years since I’ve read Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, which I’ve always seen as something of a companion piece to George Orwell’s 1984, only with a remarkably different dystopia. I’m going to give this movie the benefit of the doubt at this point, and assume that it more or less captures the story of the novel. I say this because I find the story very interesting indeed; it follows the adventures of several characters in this future world, and explores the way cultures can develop different and irreconcilable forms of morality. It also explores the theme of how the removal of pain, sadness and suffering can also remove the spark of human spirit; in particular, the use of the works of Shakespeare as a counterpoint to the bland events of this “brave new world” demonstrates that greatness will not exist where suffering does not exist. The movie (which ran over two nights and runs about three hours long without commercials) is also well cast; in particular, I like Bud Cort as Bernard Marx, who was allowed to live and develop despite the fact that his embryo had been damaged while still in the bag. Also memorable are Keir Dullea, Julie Cobb, Ron O’Neal, Marcia Strassman, and Dick Anthony Williams. The direction is only so-so, and, despite the fact that the movie does have a sense of humor, I do think certain moments are unintentionally funny. Nevertheless, the strong story and the good performances prevail.

Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971)

BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1971)
Article 2903 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-19-2009
Posting Date: 7-25-2009
Directed by Seth Holt and Michael Carreras
Featuring Andrew Keir, Valerio Leon, James Villiers
Country: UK

An Egyptologist, who once headed a mysterious expedition into the tomb of Queen Tera, gives his daughter a ring found on the severed hand of the queen. It is meant to protect her from the curse of the evil Queen, who looks just like her. However, the queen will not be denied…

On the plus side, I really like that Hammer decided not to go the usual mummy route for this exercise in Egyptian horror; in fact, there’s really no mummy to speak of (and the Queen’s body is too well-preserved to really count). There are also some effective and eerie moments in the movie. However, there are also a fair amount of clumsy ones, the characters aren’t really developed enough to make their motivations clear, and I came out of this one more than a little unsatisfied. Granted, the production was plagued with problems of its own; its original star (Peter Cushing) had to back out due to his wife’s illness, and the director died before the production was complete, necessitating a replacement for the last few days of shooting. There’s some wonderfully subtle moments here, but there’s also some strident and forced ones as well. I do like the nod to the director of the original DRACULA in the boyfriend’s name, though. I just wish this movie worked better overall.

Birds Do It (1966)

BIRDS DO IT (1966)
Article 2902 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-18-2009
Posting Date: 7-24-2009
Directed by Andrew Marton
Featuring Soupy Sales, Tab Hunter, Arthur O’Connell
Country: USA

A janitor at a military/scientific installation accidentally gets trapped inside a machine that pumps him full of ions. This gives him the ability to fly and makes him irresistible to the opposite sex.

Imagine a cross between a Disney shopping cart movie and a Jerry Lewis movie. Now imagine that it’s about the quality of THE FAT SPY or THE NASTY RABBIT. That should give you a sense of what this dreadful comedy is like. It’s one of those movies that tries to be a laugh riot for every second of its running time, but none of the jokes hit and all that’s left is a sense of desperation. Of the three leads listed above, it’s Tab Hunter that comes off best, but that may be because he’s the only one who doesn’t come across as desperate. On the plus side, I will take my hat off to the special effects crew and the chimp (the former because they do a decent job and the latter because I like chimps). As for the rest… really, you’re better off with IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD. Just one thing – please, someone reassure me that that wasn’t Groucho Marx in a cameo!