Exorcism’s Daughter (1971)

EXORCISM’S DAUGHTER (1971)
aka House of Insane Women, Las Melancolicas
Article 2563 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-11-2008
Posting Date: 8-19-2008
Directed by Rafael Moreno Alba
Featuring Analie Gade, Francisco Rabal, Espartaco Santoni
Country: Spain

A doctor joins the staff of a women’s insane asylum armed with new liberal methods of treating the residents. He tries to help one young woman of the asylum, but encounters resistance from the townspeople who think his use of hypnotism makes him a witch.

As a horror movie, this is a washout; the title has very little to do with the story and was probably slapped on after THE EXORCIST proved such a hit; this is, in fact, a drama rather than a horror movie. As a drama, it is little better; the characters aren’t particularly well-developed, and the story is weak. As a piece of exploitation, you’re best off fast forwarding to the orgy sequence, and then you can skip the rest of the movie. As a political statement, it’s pretty obvious; if even I notice the political themes (and I’m not particularly keen on looking for them), then you know the movie isn’t being subtle about them. On the whole, the movie is no fun, not very exciting, and a downer. It’s not really much in the way of bad movie fun, either; it’s competently done, and even fairly well dubbed; it’s just dull. I only recommend this one to those of you who still think it sounds enticing after reading this review.

 

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Eaten Alive (1977)

EATEN ALIVE (1977)
Article 2562 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-10-2008
Posting Date: 8-18-2008
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Featuring Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones
Country: USA

A psychotic backwoods hotel owner kills his customers with a scythe and feeds them to a crocodile he keeps in his back yard.

I wonder what it must have been like for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE director Tobe Hooper to realize that he had to come up with a follow-up to his legendary horror movie and the expectations that would go with it. This, the result, is a mixed bag at best. On the plus side, Neville Brand definitely gives a memorable performance as a psycho who lives so much in his own head that he is damn near incoherent. Hooper also makes effective use of music and sound on occasion; I’m particularly impressed by the scene where Brand’s character finds himself assaulted by the sounds of the woman he’s got tied upstairs trying to escape, the sounds of the intrusive couple having sex in the next room, and the sound of the little girl crying under the hotel, which he tries to fight by turning up a country music station to top volume. The creepy, dingy, grungy look of the area is also a plus. Unfortunately, the script is a real mess; its lack of focus keeps the horror from building up to any real effective head of steam, and, despite all the grisly nastiness of the story, it’s easy to walk away from, which is something you can’t say about TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. And because it never really grips you in the same way as that movie, you also end up realizing that the premise is more than a little bit silly. The movie is also muddied up by unnecessary subplots and scenes, and too many other characters who are perilously close to psychotic; the little girl’s father and the strange guy at the bar end up as major distractions. It is interesting to see one of Robert Englund’s early film roles, though. The movie isn’t awful; it’s just a mess that had the potential to be a lot better.

 

Exo-Man (1977)

EXO-MAN (1977)
TV-Movie
Article 2497 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-4-2008
Posting Date: 6-13-2008
Directed by Richard Irving
Featuring David Ackroyd, Anne Schedeen, A. Martinez
Country: USA

A college physics professor becomes the main witness in an armed bank robbery attempt, and a hit man is sent out to kill him to prevent him from testifying. The murder attempt only manages to paralyze the professor. The professor then builds a suit that will allow him to walk and defeat the villains.

I smell failed TV-Pilot here. The story is from Martin Caidin, who was also responsible for the story that spawned into “The Six-Million Dollar Man” and the other bionic TV series. This one looks as if it’s hoping lightning will strike again. Unfortunately, the TV-Movie gets too mired in the “mythic origins” part of the story; it takes forever to get to the creation of Exo-Man, and much of the movie focuses on the professor’s various relationships and his dour mood after he becomes paralyzed. Sadly, the thing doesn’t improve much when Exo-man swings – er, let me rephrase that – plods into action. Sure, it’s impressive that the outfit is bulletproof and can walk through electrical fences, but he looks like a cheap robot, and he moves with the speed of Kharis the mummy, and most of the bad guys who die in his wake do so by their own stupid actions rather than any heroic action on Exo-man’s part. Had the movie become a TV series, the best thing about it would have been Harry Morgan’s character as head of a covert law-fighting organization. At least Steve Austin could run fast.

 

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX * BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (1972)
Article 2475 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-11-2008
Posting Date: 5-22-2008
Directed by Woody Allen
Featuring Woody Allen, John Carradine, Lou Jacobi
Country: USA

Several stories are presented based on concepts on David Reuben’s book about sex.

Three of the seven segments of this anthology movie have fantastic content; the first one, in which a court jester attempts to seduce a queen, features a ghost and a love potion; the sixth one, in which a mad scientist performing horrible experiments with sex unleashes a giant breast loose on the world, and the final one, in which the workings of a brain during a sexual encounter are portrayed as a science fiction epic. The movie is amusing enough, but I think it gets its biggest laughs when Woody Allen nails the correct styles for the genre takes on the various episodes; in particular, the third episode (which parodies Italian movies, complete with subtitling), the fifth episode (a parody of a TV game show) and the sixth episode (horror movie parody with John Carradine exceedingly well cast as a mad scientist) work the best. The other episodes have moments as well; Gene Wilder and Lou Jacobi both give great performances as, respectively, a doctor in love with a sheep and a transvestite. After this movie, Woody Allen would take another shot at science fiction with SLEEPER.

 

El extrano caso del hombre y el bestia (1951)

EL EXTRANO CASO DEL HOMBRE Y EL BESTIA (1951)
aka The Man and the Beast
Article 2459 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-26-2007
Posting Date: 5-6-2008
Directed by Mario Soffici
Featuring Martha Atoche, Ana Maria Campoy, Jose Cibrian
Country: Argentina

A bestial man is the focus of curiosity, and he has some relation to a respected physician known as Jekyll.

This Argentine movie is in unsubtitled Spanish, but given that it’s based on a famous story with many other film versions, it really wasn’t too difficult to piece together what was going on. Still, the first half of the movie mostly consists of talk, and it would have been nice to know better what was going on. The story was updated to the present, and there is a memorable sequence where the doctor transforms in a subway tunnel while the train passes by. It’s also one of those versions of the story that hones a little closer to the original novel than others. Outside of that, the main thing I noticed is that the Mr. Hyde character bears more than a passing resemblance to Erich Von Stroheim, and the odd fact that Jekyll actually loses most of his hair during his transformation.

 

The Extraordinary Seaman (1969)

THE EXTRAORDINARY SEAMAN (1969)
Article 2454 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-21-2007
Posting Date: 5-1-2008
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Featuring David Niven, Faye Dunaway, Alan Alda

During World War II, four sailors left adrift in a lifeboat find themselves taken aboard a beached boat captained by a strange British officer. They help him to relaunch the boat ostensibly to take them to Australia, but they find that the officer is a ghost with plans of his own.

John Frankenheimer is the man responsible for such fine movies as THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, SEVEN DAYS IN MAY and SECONDS. He also gave us this, one of the lousiest, most lifeless fantasy/comedies ever made. This movie is so devoid of laughs and energy that I find myself really curious about the history of the movie; it feels as if the movie was directed on autopilot, and of the actors, only Alan Alda seems to be putting forth any effort. But then, only him and David Niven have characters of any interest; Faye Dunaway gets to be a tough girl with a gun in the opening scenes and then becomes a nonentity, Jack Carter is given little more to do than to like motorbikes, and Mickey Rooney’s character consists of a single running joke; he thinks everyone is Japanese. Attempts to liven the humor with a lot of stock footage and (purportedly) funny commentary does little more than give the movie a sense of half-assed desperation. The best thing about the movie is the running time, as it clocks in at eighty minutes; someone knew that this waste of time didn’t merit being any longer.

 

End of the World (1977)

END OF THE WORLD (1977)
Article 2370 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-21-2007
Posting Date: 2-7-2008
Directed by John Hayes
Featuring Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott
A scientist investigates messages from outer space that coincide with recent natural disasters. He tracks the messages to a seemingly peaceful convent, which he investigates. The convent is not what it seems…

Given that disaster movies were at their most popular in the seventies, I can easily envision people being drawn into this one by the title expecting the ultimate in that genre. If they did, they most likely walked away disgusted. If you go in expecting more of what it really is (a rather cheesy low-budget late-seventies science fiction movie), it has its moments. The opening scene pretty much steals the movie; it catches your attention and draws you in enough that you find yourself being patient with the unfocused, muddled and slow-moving script for a little while, but only for a little while. Most of the title action consists of stock footage. The movie seems to promise a certain degree of star power, what with Christopher Lee, Dean Jagger and Lew Ayres in the cast, but only Lee has a significant role; the others only appear in cameos, with the scene featuring Ayres being especially gratuitous, as it introduces a character who has played no role in the proceeding up to that time, and will proceed to play no role in the succeeding scenes. The movie contains one of my least favorite recurring plot elements of science fiction movies; namely, the aliens who have mastered interstellar travel needing the help of Earth scientists to get something done. You’ll probably shake your head in disbelief when the head alien tells the scientist that, were he to come with him to his Utopian alien society, they would use his scientific knowledge for good rather than for destructive purposes as he does on Earth; this is especially hard-to-swallow given that the purpose of the alien’s visit to Earth is nothing if not destructive. On the plus side, at least the score is appropriate to the action of the movie.