Farewell to the Planet of the Apes (1981)

Article 2319 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-1-2007
Posting Date: 12-18-2007
Directed by Don McDougall and John Meredyth Lucas
Featuring Ron Harper, Roddy McDowall, James Naughton

Burke and Virdon set free a man from a fishing village who was being sacrificed because he was too old, and they set out to change the ways of the fisherman. Then they encounter a human who has learned the secret of flight but is in danger for his life from the apes.

This is another TV-Movie edited from episodes of the “Planet of the Apes” TV series; in this case, episode 6 (“Tomorrow’s Tide”) and episode 14 (“Up Above the World So High”, the last one of the series) are combined. Despite the title, there is no escape from the planet, since the series ended before it could resolve its plot. Actually, I liked this one a shade better than the other two I’ve seen, largely because the stories seem less formulaic, less preachy, and show a sense of humor that I found sorely lacking in the others I’ve seen so far. They still fall short of compelling, though, and I still think the series was pretty weak overall. However, it did make me appreciate the best thing about it; Roddy McDowall always put his best foot forward, and his character is far and away the most interesting one in the series. His performance helps to compensate somewhat for the other weaknesses.

With this one, I’ve seen (via TV-Movie versions) just a little under half of the episodes of the series. I’ve got one more of these to go, but it will be several days until I get to it.



The Forgotten City of the Planet of the Apes (1981)

Article 2317 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-30-2007
Posting Date: 12-16-2007
Directed by Don McDougall and Bernard McEveety
Featuring Ron Harper, James Naughton, Roddy McDowall

Virdon, Burke and Galen encounter an ape city where the prefect has the humans fight as gladiators in an arena. They they visit an abandoned city, where Urko captures one of the fugitives, and an attempt is made to get him to reveal the whereabouts of his companions.

Two more episodes from the “Planet of the Apes” TV-series get the TV-movie conversion done on them, in this case, the second and the fifth episodes, “The Gladiators” and “The Legacy”. In the first, a valuable lesson is taught to a decent but misguided ape prefect. In the second, valuable lessons are taught to a young kid given to stealing and mistrust. The first one is slightly better, partially due to the presence of John Hoyt as the prefect. Still, neither one is very good, and after a while the leaden pace, uninspired direction, and lack of incidental music at key points of the story really drags it down. At least with the TV series you can watch one episode at a time.

It’s been three days in a row of bogus TV-movies edited from other sources, and I’m ready to watch a real movie now.


Faustina (1957)

Article 2311 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-24-2007
Posting Date: 12-10-2007
Directed by Jose Luis Saenz de Heredia
Featuring Maria Felix, Juan de Landa, Jose Isbert

Mephistopheles gets an old woman to sell her soul to the devil, and then tries to foil her plans for power, but finds himself outwitted by her at every turn.

I had to get this plot description from other sources than the movie itself. it’s a Mexican comedy/drama/fantasy modeled somewhat off the Faust story, and that’s about all I really got out of it. It is in unsubtitled Spanish, and it’s one of those movies where you really have to understand the dialog to follow the story. Nonetheless, there are a few sequences that can be appreciated; I like the scenes in hell, which look like a corporate office only with flames burning everywhere, and the devils swat flies and light cigars with their tails. There’s an obviously comic sequence where the somewhat inept Mephistopheles accidentally turns his client into a baby in his attempt to restore her youth, and there’s a scene with a car caught on the railroad tracks. Outside of that, I’m afraid this one is largely impenetrable unless you know Spanish. Its rating of 5.3 on IMDB seems to indicate that it is not a particularly good movie, and I must admit that I got that impression from what I did see. Still, it’s another one I can cross off my list.


Frozen Alive (1964)

Article 2251 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-15-2007
Posting Date: 10-11-2007
Directed by Bernard Knowles
Featuring Mark Stevens, Marianne Koch, Wolfgang Lukschy

A scientist experiments with suspended animation. He tests it on himself, not knowing that his wife has just died in a freak gun accident (NOT a murder, as most of the other plot descriptions of this one say). However, the police think it is a murder, and wait for the scientist to come out of suspended animation.

Before anyone screams that my plot description is replete with spoilers, I will say this in my defense; every time I read about this movie, I read something very similar to what I’ve written above, despite the fact that the events that are therein described don’t begin to occur until about two-thirds of the way into the movie. Furthermore, since we actually see the wife’s death as it occurs, there is simply no mystery involved as to how she died, so I’m not giving anything away by making these corrections to the plot description. Yes, I could have restricted my plot description to events near the beginning of the movie, but let’s face it; this movie is a snoozefest of the first order, and virtually nothing of real interest occurs during the first two-thirds of the movie except some tepid soap opera antics and the seemingly endless setting up of a plot that could have been handled in five to ten minutes by an efficient director and writer. Quite frankly, the movie is fairly devoid of thrills; at its best, it is only slightly interesting, and it’s only at its best for a few minutes towards the end of the movie. You’re better off with either THE FROZEN DEAD or THE FROZEN GHOST .


Fireworks (1947)

Article 2249 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-13-2007
Posting Date: 10-9-2007
Directed by Kenneth Anger
Featuring Kenneth Anger, Bill Seltzer, Gordon Gray

A man dreams that he tries to pick up sailor and then is brutally beaten by a group of them.

Back when I covered Kenneth Anger’s INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME , I was hampered somewhat by the fact that the movie was very hard to find, and that I had little information on hand to help me to sort out the movie. However, the recent release of some of Anger’s early films on DVD (complete with notes and commentary) has helped with appreciating this one a little more. Despite the above plot description, it really isn’t about the story; it’s the recreation of a dream that Anger actually had, most probably inspired by a series of events in 1944 involving the brutalization of Mexicans by gangs of sailors. It’s full of abstract imagery, gay sexuality and brutal and grotesque visions, some of it quite horrific. I know enough about the movie now to admire Anger’s accomplishment, but ultimately with this sort of underground cinema, how much you really enjoy it is dependent on how much it speaks to you personally, and, for me, the movie doesn’t really satisfy much in that regard. The dreamlike quality and the grotesqueness provide the fantastic content.


Francis Covers the Big Town (1953)

Article 2247 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-11-2007
Posting Date: 10-7-2007
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Featuring Donald O’Connor, Yvette Duguay, Gene Lockhart

Peter Stirling gains employment at a newspaper in the hopes of becoming a big reporter. Francis the talking mule uses his ability to talk with horses to help Peter get big scoops (you know, the inside track on stories, NOT scoops of of other things mules might produce). However, troubles arise when Peter uncovers the truth about a protection racket.

Yes, it’s another Francis the Talking Mule movie. Taken individually, these movies are passable light comedy. Taken in toto, they’re tedious repetitions of the same gags, and I’m afraid this this one, despite eschewing the usual military milieu of the series, is pretty formulaic. I’m really tired of gags involving Peter bringing in someone to meet Francis, and Francis refusing to talk to them until Francis decides to insult them. I’m really tired of Peter undergoing psychiatric examinations because people think he’s crazy for talking to a mule. I’m really tired of the movie always ending with Francis saving Peter’s hash by appearing before a large group of people and proving that he can talk. All those scenes are here in spades, or course, and the fact that this may be slightly better than the other entries in the series does little to alleviate things. The best things here are the familiar faces that pop up; Gene Lockhart plays a newspaper editor, Gale Gordon plays a district attorney, Maurice Cass (Professor Newton from the Rocky Jones series) pops up as a psychiatrist, John Qualen is here as an inordinately meek lawyer (and he pretty much steals the show in his few scenes), and Eddie Parker pops up as well.

This marks the fifth entry of this series I’ve seen. Two more to go.


Forced Entry (1975)

Article 2214 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-8-2007
Posting Date: 9-4-2007
Directed by JIm Sotos
Featuring Tanya Roberts, Ron Max, Nancy Allen

A serial rapist is on the loose. He begins to stalk a housewife.

It is possible to make a movie on such an unpleasant subject if you find some way to make it worth the trouble of seeing it. It could have a real insight into the psyche of the perpetrator, or it could be stylistically fascinating, or it could have a real cathartic effect once it’s all over, just to name a few. However, if the movie does nothing more than stick us with this unpleasant character for the length of the movie, than I have little use for it, and that’s what this movie does. Yes, the rapist is fairly creepy, but it’s a one-note type of creepiness that doesn’t change for the length of the movie. I didn’t anticipate enjoying this film and I didn’t; nor did I get anything out of it to make the watching of it worth the effort. The nicest thing I can say about it is that it is easier to take than the movie of which it is a remake, a hardcore porno version of the story which I inadvertently stumbled upon while hunting for this one, and which dwells endlessly on the explicit details of the rapes. Quite frankly, I’m glad to be done with both of them.