Cruel Ghost Legend (1968)

Cruel Ghost Legend (1968)
aka Kaidan zankoku monogatari
Article 5896 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-3-2020
Directed by Kazuo Hase
Featuring Masumi Harukawa, Nobue Kaneko, Saeda Kawaguchi
Country: Japan
What it is: Bloody curse story

When a down-on-his-luck samurai kills a blind man for his money, a curse is set upon him and his family.

Despite a title which promises a ghost, that isn’t quite what we get here; at least I don’t recall the blind man’s ghost taking any active role in the proceedings. However, the curse is very much real, as each of the members of the family suffers for the crime committed in the opening reels. It is, however, one of those movies that unfolds in a very confusing manner, and until the final reel it feels more like an exercise in exploitation than a horror movie per se; there is a lot of sex, a lot of disgusting behavior, and a lot of grotesque blood-letting. It’s also not very much fun; I don’t think there’s a single likable character in the whole movie. The ending does clarify a number of plot points, but I’m glad I saw the 88 minute version rather than the one that ran two hours; I suspect that one has an extra half-hour of confusion. All in all, I think the good points of this one slightly outweigh the bad, but it is one of those movies that I don’t feel motivated to give a second try.

Curse of the Witch (1927)

Curse of the Witch (1927)
aka Noidan kirot
Article 5784 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-31-2020
Directed by Teuvo Puro
Featuring Einar Rinne, Heidi Blafield, Irmeli Viherjuuri
Country: Finland
What it is: Drama

The bride of a farmer in Utuniemi is raped by a lumberjack during the husband’s absence. The woman is too ashamed to tell of it to her husband, but their first child bears a resemblance to the lumberjack… and her husband is beginning to notice it…

This movie apparently has the reputation of being the first Finnish horror film, but I’m not sure I would make that call. However, a witch’s curse does play into the story, but it’s up to the viewer to decide if the curse is real or just a metaphor for the burdens the couple must carry. At any rate, I found this a very entertaining and suspenseful story. Granted, I will openly admit that I have a weak spot for any movie that takes place in the snow-covered realm of Finland, and there’s plenty of footage from the area to enjoy. It is primarily a drama about a man who is full of anger and vengeance, but we’re never quite sure who will be hurt if he lets those feelings consume him. I was a little surprised by the ending, but I do like it. This one is worthwhile.

Curse of the Mummy (1970)

Curse of the Mummy (1970)
Article 5783 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-31-2020
Directed by Guy Verney
Featuring Isobel Black, Patrick Mower, Donald Churchill
Country: UK
What it is: Episode of “Mystery and Imagination”

An Egyptologist is found unconscious by his daughter; a doctor and a policeman are called in to investigate. But it’s not until a stranger shows up looking for the Egyptologist that the truth begins to unfold, in which it is discovered that the Egyptologist meant to undertake a bizarre experiment with a mummy.

I’ve covered other episodes of this British TV series, so I might as well cover this one as well. It’s based on Bram Stoker’s novel “The Jewel of the Seven Stars”, and I’ve seen at least three other versions of this story, (including a reading of a stage version of the story). This version appears to be a fairly faithful version of the novel (based on a summary I found on Wikipedia), albeit one that omits a few details to accommodate the short running time. It is also a little cramped and claustrophobic, as the action is confined to a handful of rooms in the same house, and apart from an opening dream sequence, it’s mostly a lot of talk until the final ten minutes, and ends with what I think is supposed to be a twist, though anyone who has been paying even cursory attention to the talk will not be surprised. It’s passable but nothing special.

Cult of the Damned (1969)

Cult of the Damned (1969)
aka Angel, Angel, Down We Go
Article 5782 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-30-2020
Directed by Robert Thom
Featuring Jennifer Jones, Jordan Christopher, Holly Near
Country: USA
What it is: During this era, who can tell?

The overweight daughter of a rich but sleazy couple runs off with a rock star at her coming-out party. Eventually the rock star decides to meet the rest of the girl’s family. Things happen and words are said.

This is one of those late sixties/early seventies drug-addled counterculture art films; its original title was ANGEL, ANGEL, DOWN WE GO; it was renamed CULT OF THE DAMNED when it was released as a second feature to THE VAMPIRE LOVERS; no doubt the new title was to make it seem more like a horror movie. I suppose it’s some sort of commentary on the American Dream (it drops a few hints in that direction), but I’ll be honest; neither the world of the rich parents nor the one of the rock star and his cohorts look very attractive to me, which is my way of saying that I started the movie not much caring what was going to happen to anybody in the movie, and as it went one, I found myself caring even less. At any rate, I’m not sure it fully qualifies for this series; there are hints of horror around the edges, but it certainly doesn’t play like one and it’s not trying to be one. Frankly, this one isn’t my cup of tea.

The Crystal Brawl (1957)

The Crystal Brawl (1957)
Article 5781 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-29-2020
Directed by Seymour Kneitel and Izzy Sparber
Featuring the voices of Jackson Beck, Jack Mercer, and Mae Questal
Country: USA
What it is: Popeye in recycle mode

When his date with Olive Oyl is shanghaied by a trick from Bluto, Popeye gets revenge by disguising himself as a fortune teller and showing Olive Oyl the indignities she will suffer at Bluto’s hands.

As the fortune teller, Popeye claims his crystal ball will show Olive Oyl the future, but he’s not entirely accurate; the savvy viewer will know that he’s showing her the past, i.e. archive footage from three earlier Popeye cartoons, ABUSEMENT PARK, QUICK ON THE VIGOR and ALPINE FOR YOU. (Note: there’s a chance that only two of these are used, but that’s still a lot of recycling). At any rate, this is one of those cartoons that owes it existence more to budgetary constraints than to imagination. The fantastic content is the whole “crystal ball predicting the future” angle, but there’s always the “spinach superpower” angle here as well. At any rate, you’d probably be better off finding the original three cartoons and watching those. Consider this one a throwaway.

Crying Wolf (1947)

Crying Wolf (1947)
Article 5780 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-29-2020
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Featuring the voices of Dayton Allen, Roy Halee, Tom Morrison
Country: USA
What it is: Mighty Mouse cartoon

The black sheep of a flock keeps scaring the others with his cry of “Wolf!”. But what will happen when a real wolf shows up? And who will save the sheep then?

Instead of defending a bunch of mice against a cat, Mighty Mouse defends a bunch of sheep against a wolf. Though I’m tempted to give the cartoon a bit of credit for varying the formula that little bit, it’s not the first time this substitution was made; try WOLF! WOLF! from 1944. Borrowing part of the premise from the story of the boy who cried wolf isn’t really a plus, either; it only tells you the plot line that the rest of the cartoon will follow. Nevertheless, this is one of the better of the series, largely because the wolves prove a slightly more formidable opponent than the usual cat, and also because it does yield at least one rather amusing gag (that’s one more than many of the Mighty Mouse cartoons pull off). Still, I’m not sure that’s enough to recommend this one; it’s just a marginally more interesting entry in a tired series.

CreepTales (2004)

CreepTales (2004)
Article 5779 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-28-2020
Directed by several people
Featuring Jess Sherman, Michael Minton, Tim Choate
Country: USA
What it is: Horror anthology

Two hunchbacks try to find a video tape for their party. When they find the video store closed, they dig up the grave of Uncle Munger and take the video he was buried with, CREEPTALES. Will they enjoy it? Will Uncle Munger want it back?

Apparently, the various individual stories in this anthology were purchased from others rather than having been made exclusively for this movie. This is probably why any one of the individual stories is superior to the wraparound, which is a loud, incoherent mess. There’s a story about a mad aunt (this story also appears in another anthology, TALES FROM THE UNKNOWN), a purse-snatcher, a kid frightened by what’s in his closet, a group of men hunting a werewolf, visitors to a creepy town, and a woman who cleans up her life with a strange vacuum cleaner. The stories about the purse-snatcher and the vacuum cleaner were my favorites; the rest I found rather tiresome. I found this one on one of a set of DVD anthologies put out by Brentwood a couple of decades ago; each one had ten movies on five double-sided discs, and featured really ugly artwork on the front cover. Overall, this one is pretty forgettable, but it might be better if you fast-forward through the wraparound.

Creepers (1985)

Creepers (1985)
aka Phenomena
Article 5778 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-27-2020
Directed by Dario Argento
Featuring Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi
Country: Italy, Switzerland
What it is: Argento, of course

The daughter of an American actor is sent to a boarding school in Switzerland. She sleepwalks, has telepathic communication with insects, and helps an entomologist track down a serial killer.

I take my hat off to Argento; I find it fascinating the way he can jumble together a bewildering array of plot elements (enough for three movies) all in one movie and not have it collapse into incoherence. Which is my way of saying that this movie more or less works, especially during a climax which has a few surprises up its sleeve. The version I saw was only 88 minutes, though there is an hour and 56 minute version of it out there. If IMDB is correct, it’s Argento’s favorite of those he directed, though I still prefer SUSPIRIA (which shares a few plot elements with this one). All in all, I found this one pretty good, though it is occasionally bewildering.

Crazy Town (1954)

Crazy Town (1954)
Article 5776 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-25-2020
Directed by Izzy Sparber
Featuring the voice of Jack Mercer
Country: USA
What it is: Crazy

Welcome to Crazy Town, where things happen in ways we’re not used to in the normal world.

There’s no real story here; it’s just a bunch of gags, mostly of the “exactly opposite of what we’d expect” variety; for example, people walk in the streets and cars use the sidewalks, and storks deliver parents to babies. Some of the gags are hackneyed and obvious, but there are some genuinely surreal and original moments here. Oddly enough, the running gag involving a man (or anthropomorphic animal, as the case may be) trying to build a house feels out of place here; it doesn’t quite fit in with the theme. Since this place can be seen as existing in an alternate universe, it classifies as fantastic content. I wished it worked a little better rather than being so scattershot, but most “random gag” cartoons like this have the same problem.

Crawlspace (1986)

Crawlspace (1986)
Article 5775 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-25-2020
Directed by David Schmoeller
Featuring Klaus Kinski, Talia Balsam, Barbara Whinnery
Country: USA / Italy
What it is: That’s what we’re trying to figure out.

A young woman becomes a tenant in an apartment building, unaware that the landlord is the homicidal son of a Nazi surgeon.

Is it a slasher, or is it a psycho killer movie? In this one, it’s a little hard to tell. If it’s the former, then getting Klaus Kinski to play your slasher villain is overkill. Still, on the plus side, he’s probably going to make the villain a lot more interesting than it might otherwise be. On the down side, you cast Kinski at your own peril; director David Schmoeller would reflect on the unpleasantness of the experience in a short called PLEASE KILL MR. KINSKI, a plea that was made to the director by the other cast and crew members. On the other hand, if it is a psycho killer movie, we need a somewhat more complex character for our killer than we find here; for example, having our killer be the son of a Nazi surgeon should feel like an organic choice rather than a gimmick. And, once we reach the climax of the movie, it seems to follow the slasher playbook closely. The odd little touches here and there keep the movie from being entirely routine, but overall, it’s a bit on the disappointing side.