Dr. Sex (1964)

DR. SEX (1964)
Article 2561 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-9-2008
Posting Date: 8-17-2008
Directed by Ted V. Mikels
Featuring Victor Izay, Julia Calda, Max Joseph
Country: USA

Three psychiatrists discuss their most interesting patients, all of whose stories involve naked woman. One turns into a poodle; one is addicted to mannequins, one is an exhibitionist, and one lives in a house haunted by naked women.

This is a nudie.

The primary purpose of a nudie is to show as many naked people as you can on the screen, preferably well-built women.

The primary problem in making a nudie is making sure you have as many naked women as possible while still avoiding the cinematic no-no of the time of showing full frontal nudity.

In nudies, plot, humor, social relevance, creative direction and passable acting are all of no consequence; as long as you get the naked bodies on the screen, you’ve served your purpose. Which is not to say you can’t try adding those things; it’s just that those who would be interested in seeing the movie could care less.

So, did this movie achieve its high artistic goals? Well, there’s lots of naked women in it, so I’ll leave that up to you.

By the way, co-writer Wayne Rogers would gain fame as Trapper John on the TV series “M*A*S*H”, and director and co-writer Ted V. Mikels would go on to give us THE CORPSE GRINDERS, ASTRO-ZOMBIES and BLOOD ORGY OF THE SHE-DEVILS.

Another one down. Time to move on.

 

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Deranged (1974)

DERANGED (1974)
Article 2560 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-8-2008
Posting Date: 8-15-2008
Directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby
Featuring Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson
Country: USA

On the passing of his mother, a man’s mental condition deteriorates. He digs up his dead mother and keeps her in his house, engages in grave-robbing and taxidermy to keep her from falling apart, and eventually turns to cannibalism and murdering women.

The Ed Gein story was one of the inspirations for, among others, PSYCHO, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS; there’s no doubt that it touches a horrific nerve somewhere. This one is rather modest; rather than using the story to horrify, it attempts to tell a more straightforward account of the Ed Gein murders. I don’t know how accurate the movie is in this respect, but there’s one thing I can say; thanks to some fine casting (especially Roberts Blossom as Ezra Cobb, the Ed Gein role) and a real sense of authenticity, the movie comes across as utterly convincing. Blossoms is really a wonder here; he manages to come across as sympathetic despite his derangement, and we can understand why those close to him didn’t know what he was doing and felt he was no more than a harmless eccentric. Even the conceit of having an onscreen narrator tell us the story on occasion doesn’t break the feeling that we’re seeing a re-creation of real life events. The movie even manages to show a sharp sense of humor on occasion. This movie is powerful, sad, and rather modest in telling its tale.

 

The Demon Lover (1977)

THE DEMON LOVER (1977)
Article 2558 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-6-2008
Posting Date: 8-13-2008
Directed by Donald G. Jackson and Jerry Younkins
Featuring Christmas Robbins, Val Mayerik, Gunnar Hansen
Country: USA

When his coven-in-the-making walks out on him, a dabbler in the black arts conjures up a demon to get revenge.

Some of the killings show a bit of creativity in this no-budget horror movie, and it’s obvious the filmmakers are having a bit of fun when the character names include Peckinpah, Frazetta, Ackerman, Ormsby and Romero. Given the extremely low budget, it’s no surprise the special effects are bad, so I won’t harp on that. However, it’s the atrocious script and the incredibly bad acting that really make this one memorably bad; I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many bad lines badly delivered in my life. In fact, it’s so bad that I found myself wondering if the movie was intentionally bad in the sense that, say, a Troma film is bad; that is, actually aspiring to badness for the humor value. That may be the case; director Donald G. Jackson would go on to make at least one film for Troma. Still, the movie did give me a chance to see what Gunnar Hansen looks like without the Leatherface mask, and, for the record, he’s one of the few actors who doesn’t embarrass himself in this one. But then, he’s about the only member of the cast who has acted in other movies.

 

Death: The Ultimate Mystery (1975)

DEATH: THE ULTIMATE MYSTERY (1975)
Article 2557 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-5-2008
Posting Date: 8-12-2008
Directed by Bob Emenegger and Allan Sandler
Featuring Cameron Mitchell, Gloria Prince, Don Felipe

After having had a near-death experience, a photojournalist embarks on a study of the ultimate mystery, death.

This documentary uses the concept of a reporter searching for the truth in its exploration of death. I don’t know if this is supposed to reflect a true situation (i.e. that it’s telling the story of a real reporter’s journey of research), but I can say this – the movie’s attempt to weave the reporter’s research into the subject is one of the biggest strikes against the movie’s credibility. For one thing, if there is a real reporter, why doesn’t he use his own voice rather than that of actor Cameron Mitchell? Also, we never see the reporter’s face; he’s always shot from behind or in the shadows, and at certain times it becomes apparent that the movie is going out of its way to keep his face hidden. Though I suspect this is to provide us with the sense of him being Everyman (and thus, putting us in his place to share his journey), it also gives us a sense that a lot of the movie was staged rather than happening spontaneously. There’s a certain amount of verisimilitude here; it’s obvious that most of the people you meet are non-actors (though the reporter’s female psychologist friend is the most glaring exception here).

As for the subject matter itself, there’s very little new here. Only two tidbits of information that presented itself interested me; one was that, according to one individual who studied the subject, death may not be an unpleasant experience as the shutting down of the body’s organisms may have a feeling somewhat akin to taking morphine, and the other was that one doctor reported that not all near-death experiences involve going joyously toward a light, but that some of them were, in fact, quite dark indeed; it’s just that the people who had these experiences don’t like to talk about them. Other than that, most of the movie is a dull, lifeless retread of stuff I’ve encountered before, especially the last half of the movie in which we have an extended session of hypnotic regression into previous lives followed by a follow-up fact research of the related experience; in short, it’s the whole Bridey Murphy thing regurgitated one more time. And the lifeless direction and editing make this documentary a real snooze.

 

The Daydreamer (1966)

THE DAYDREAMER (1966)
Article 2555 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-3-2008
Posting Date: 8-10-2008
Directed by Jules Bass
Featuring the voices of Tallulah Bankhead, Victor Borge, Patty Duke, and many others
Country: USA

A young boy dreams of leaving the drudgery of learning his lessons to find the Garden of Paradise. He meets a mermaid, two tailors, and a tiny girl in his quest.

Due to its inclusion in a filmography of Boris Karloff’s, I’d known about this movie for years and hoped to see it someday, largely due to the presence of the great horror actor as the voice of The Rat. Karloff’s presence, as well as that of many other well-known actors such as Tallulah Bankhad, Victor Borge, Patty Duke, Jack Gilford, Sessue Hayakawa, Margaret Hamilton, Burl Ives, Hailey Mills, Cyril Richard, Terry-Thomas, Ed Wynn and Ray Bolger can’t help but keep the interest level up, as also does the fact that it comes from Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. Unfortunately, the movie is marred by a somewhat aimless story and underdeveloped characters, and though many of the songs are melodic enough, they’re a bit on the treacly side and don’t really stand out much. It’s basically a hodgepodge of Hans Christian Andersen stories and characters, and though the movie is well-intentioned, it never becomes compelling or even much fun. For me, the most memorable thing was the giant frog who threatens Thumbelina and the title character at a couple of points in the story. Horror fans will enjoy Karloff as The Rat, of course, as well as the spooky house of his friend, the Mole.

 

Dead of Night (1977)

DEAD OF NIGHT (1977)
TV-Movie
Article 2551 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-30-2008
Posting Date: 8-6-2008
Directed by Dan Curtis
Featuring Anjanette Comer, Joan Hackett, Patrick Macnee
Country: USA

A trio of stories is presented. In the first, a man restores an old car and finds himself transported back to the past. In the second, a vampire appears to be on the loose in a castle, and in the third, a woman uses the black arts to conjure her son back from the dead.

Dan Curtis takes a second stab at the anthology format (the first was TRILOGY OF TERROR), and I think it was interesting that he didn’t try to come up with a framing story. Maybe it’s just as well, I’ve found that framing stories usually don’t work all that well, though the best example of one could be found in the British horror entry from the forties which bears the same name as this one. In general, the third story is considered the best, but it didn’t really do much for me. I think it’s because I’ve never really cared much for the basic approach to horror used in this one; it’s the “stalker and stalked” plot, in which person A stalks person B, and we’re supposed to be frightened because person B is frightened. Though I understand the theory behind it, I feel the same way about that approach as I would if a movie tried to be a comedy by having a person A telling jokes and person B laughing at them, and we’re supposed to think it’s funny because person B is laughing. I suppose not liking this particular plot is something of a sacrilege for a horror fan, but there it is. The second story is largely a one-twist affair that I saw coming merely from the title of the story. This leaves the first one as my favorite, which is usually considered the weakest; for some reason, I found the gentle fantasy of this one far more interesting than the blatant scare tactics of the third one.

I can only conclude I’m out of step with a lot of horror fans on this one, but it’s not the first time, and probably won’t be the last.

 

The Dream of an Opium Fiend (1908)

THE DREAM OF AN OPIUM FIEND (1908)
aka Le Reve d’un fumeru d’opium
Article 2547 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-26-2008
Posting Date: 8-2-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
Cast unknown
Country: France

An opium fiend has a strange dream.

So just what kind of dream does an opium fiend have? Well, you can expect the Chinaman who gives you the opium to do a silly little dance (though I’m not sure that’s part of the dream). After that, you can expect to find yourself back home and ready to imbibe from a huge glass of beer (does it strike anyone out there as odd that an opium fiend would dream of having a beer), but those darned heavenly bodies will steal the glass and drink the beer themselves. Sure, you can invite the beautiful woman in the moon down to your room, but if you try to take her in your arms, she’ll just teleport away. And if you do catch her…well, it’s not pretty, believe you me. Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to be an opium fiend.