Fraidy Cat (1942)

FRAIDY CAT (1942)
Cartoon Short
Article 3706 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-22-2011
Posting Date: 10-7-2011
Directed by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna
Featuring the voices of William Hanna, Lillian Randolph, Martha Wentworth
Country: USA
What it is: Tom and Jerry Cartoon

Tom gets frightened by a radio show. Jerry decides to use this opportunity to engage in scary gags to frighten him further.

I associate the Tom and Jerry cartoons with a certain manic comic violence that can sometimes be a little hard to take. However, this is one of the earlier cartoons, and is somewhat gentler in spirit. The most memorable gags involve a sheet draped over a vacuum cleaner; the latter item is so powerful that it almost sucks up all of Tom’s nine lives. The radio show was based on a real one at the time called “The Witching Hour”, and features the voice of the real-life narrator of the show in the opening scenes. All in all, this is a fairly amusing cartoon.

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El fantasma de la opereta (1955)

EL FANTASMA DE LA OPERETA (1955)
aka The Phantom of the Operetta
Article 3704 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-20-2011
Posting Date: 10-5-2011
Directed by Enrique Carreras
Featuring Alfredo Barbieri, Amelia Vargas, Tono Andreu
Country: Argentina
What it is: Horror comedy

A phantom (as well as several other monsters) haunt an operetta.

According to the plot description on IMDB, this movie is supposed to be about a serial killer slashing the throats of chorus girls, which makes it sound somewhat bloodier and more horrific than THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. This description seemed odd to me even before I saw the movie; my instincts tell me that, with the movie’s English title being what it is, it would be a comic take on the tale. Having seen the movie now, I can only say that I should trust my instincts; there’s not a single throat slashed, but there are two phantoms, a Frankenstein monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, a mad scientist, and an invisible man in the mix. My copy is also in unsubtitled Spanish, so if there’s any real plot here, I can’t follow it. Under these circumstances, I found the most amusing sequences to be the ones where the various monsters cross the stage during an elaborate dance number, much to the delight and applause of the audience. Otherwise, this looks like a pretty silly movie.

Flying Saucer Daffy (1958)

FLYING SAUCER DAFFY (1958)
Short

Article 3686 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-2-2011
Posting Date: 9-17-2011
Directed by Jules White
Featuring Joe Besser, Larry Fine, Moe Howard
Country: USA
What it is: Three Stooges short

When Joe snaps a photograph of a paper plate flying through the air, Moe and Larry mistake it for a flying saucer, and submit the photograph to a magazine and win a bundle of money. However, the picture is soon proven to be a fake…

This was apparently the last Three Stooges short filmed, and it may be one of the weakest of them. It seems like a bit of a departure for them; it’s almost as if it’s a Joe Besser short with Moe and Larry for support; they don’t seem to be working quite like a team. At first, I even wondered how much fantastic content there really was in the short, since the plot hinges on a paper plate mistaken for a flying saucer; however, later plot developments do push it into science fiction territory. I remember hearing at one time that Joe Besser had it in his contract that he couldn’t be subjected to Moe’s violence, but seeing how he’s on the receiving end of a lot of violence from Moe here, than I’d have to say that story is probably false. At any rate, I really get the feel here that he wasn’t the right person for the third Stooge, and I just found myself wondering what it would have been like for Shemp or Curly to be in there instead.

Fantomas Strikes Back (1965)

FANTOMAS STRIKES BACK (1965)
aka Fantomas se dechaine

Article 3685 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-1-2011
Posting Date: 9-16-2011
Directed by Andre Hunebelle
Featuring Jean Marais, Louis de Funes, Mylene Demongeot
Country: France / Italy
What it is: Supervillain parody

Fantomas hatches a scheme to kidnap scientists who are on the verge of creating a method of long-distance hypnosis which could be used for world conquest. Can policeman Juve and reporter Fandor prevent him from accomplishing his evil scheme?

I was blindsided by the first movie in this series in that I didn’t expect a comedy; it was the first Fantomas movie I’d been able to see with English subtitles, and all of the others were played more or less straight. I felt a bit of resentment then (especially at the reduction of Juve to a buffoon), but I’ve gotten over it enough to enjoy this sequel for what it is, which is really more of the same. There are some fun moments here; my favorite has Fantomas and Fandor disguising themselves as the same scientist, and the confusion that results when all three of them end up in the same place. Of course, the humor is enhanced by the fact that Fantomas, Fandor and the scientist are all played by Jean Marais, who seems to be enjoying himself here. I still think Louis de Funes plays Juve a little too broadly, but at least the movie makes good use of his excitable over-the-top character in scenes where he is mistaken for a lunatic and one in which he exhorts other policemen to keep relaxed. There’s a fair amount of gadgetry in this one, including a car that converts to an airplane, a cigar gun, and a coat with a fake arm whereby the wearer can get the drop on an opponent by having a third hand. All in all, this was pretty amusing.

The Fantastic Journey (1977)

THE FANTASTIC JOURNEY (1977)
aka Vortex

Article 3623 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-1-2011
Posting Date: 7-16-2011
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Featuring Jared Martin, Carl Franklin, Ike Eisenmann
Country: USA
What it is: Pilot episode of the TV series of the same name

When a boat passes into the Bermuda Triangle, its passengers find themselves stranded in a strange world in which they can pass through different time continuums.

I was a little confused by the listing of this in John Stanley’s “Creature Features Movie Guide Strikes Again”; I was unable to establish whether it was indeed a movie and not just an episode of a TV series. Finally, I decided check out the series pilot. Despite having the episode name listed on IMDB as “Vortex”, it’s longer than the sixty minute running time that it’s listed as having, and the credit sequence looks a lot more like a movie than a TV series; furthermore, it never uses the title “Vortex”, and just calls itself by the title I have listed above. I remember having seen an episode of the short-lived series, and the biggest question I had during the credits of this was “Where is Roddy McDowall’s name?” It turns out McDowall did not become a member of the series until it actually became a series; he is absent in the pilot. In fact, it looks like quite a few changes were made from the pilot to the series. The movie ends on a cliffhanger, and I suspect these sequences were added after the rest of it was made; it looks like they were preparing to get rid of about half of the cast. It’s just as well as far as I concerned; there’s no one in the pilot that has the star power of Roddy, and the hysterical screaming woman is taken out of the mix.

All in all, I found the pilot fairly so-so, though I do like the central idea; most of the plot involves some rather uninteresting sixteenth-century pirates. My guess is that the series was bought with the idea of making a few changes to make it more viable. Since I had to buy the whole series to get the pilot, I’ll probably check them out, though I won’t be covering them here. Since the series was so short-lived, I suspect it never really developed into anything special.

Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III (1982)
Article 3621 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-29-2011
Posting Date: 7-14-2011
Directed by Steve Miner
Featuring Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Tracie Savage
Country: USA
What it is: A FRIDAY THE 13TH movie

Teens enter Jason’s domain and die.

Before I started this project, if anyone had told me I would end up willingly watching all of the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, I would have thought they were crazy. I’m even more surprised that I have something nice to say about them, which is that in their own bare-bones way, they probably delivered what fans of this type of movie expected, and I’ve seen enough slasher films now to know that a lot of them don’t even accomplish that. What sets this one apart? Well, it was filmed in 3-D, and this is the one where Jason finally dons his trademark hockey mask. Beyond that, I don’t have anything more to say than that one really feels the malaise starting to set in here. And for all the gore, once it’s over, it’s over, and if anything keeps you awake during the night, it’s more likely to be from eating too much popcorn. And now it’s only a matter of time before I hit the next in the series, which I believe is the one they pretended was going to be the last one.

Fricot a bu le remede du cheval (1910)

FRICOT A BU LE REMEDE DU CHEVAL (1910)
aka Friscot Drinks a Bottle of Horse Embrocation, Fricot beve la medicina

Article 3592 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-29-2011
Posting Date: 6-15-2011
Director unknown
Featuring Ernesto Vaser
Country: Italy
What it is: Man-acts-like-animal early comedy

Fricot is sent out to buy a bottle of horse medicine. Fricot drinks it himself, and begins acting like a horse. Hilarity ensues.

I pretty much had an idea of what this was going to be like at the outset. My only question was – How would the plot set it up so Fricot would accidentally drink this bottle of horse medicine? The answer is simple; Fricot drinks it on purpose. Conclusion: Fricot is an idiot, but I suppose that’s why it’s a comedy. On top of acting like a horse, it also seems to give him the ability to jump between metal bars, though I don’t think I would have tried it. It all ends with a chase scene. Here’s another early silent to cross of the list.