Frozen Alive (1964)

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 .

 

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Fireworks (1947)

FIREWORKS (1947)
Short
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)

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)

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.

 

Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror (1968)

FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR (1968)
aka La Marca del Hombre-lobo, The Mark of the Wolfman
Article 2200 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-25-2007
Posting Date: 8-21-2007
Directed by Enrique Lopez Eguiluz
Featuring Jacinto Molina (Paul Naschy), Manuel Manzaneque, Dyanik Zurakowska

When a werewolf is accidentally revived by greedy gypsies, two romantic rivals join a hunting party looking for wolves. When the werewolf attacks one of them, the other one destroys it, but not before being bitten himself. Upon discovering that he has now inherited the werewolf curse, he has his rival lock him in a cell in an abandoned monastery. The rival then contacts a doctor who is believed to have cure for lycanthropy, but it turns out the doctor is actually a vampire. Complications ensue.

Let’s face it; the plot description above makes the movie sound fairly goofy, and the fact that the American title for this compendium of werewolves and vampires draws in the name of Frankenstein (who is only referred to in a dumb opening prologue that tries to tie his name to that of Wolfstein) only makes it seem sillier; there’s no mad science to be found here. In truth, the movie is better than that; it’s quite moody at times (I love the creepy forest with the bare white trees), it handles the transformation sequences with a creative use of acting, shadows and sound, and it paces its far-fetched plot in such a way that you have no trouble buying into it within the context of the movie. It’s also the movie that debuted Paul Naschy in his most famous role as Waldemar Daninsky, and it’s definitely one of the better movies of the series. As usual, Naschy plays his character with an interesting contradiction of being both hero and villain, though it needs the presence of extra monsters to help him accomplish this; it is only because he is a werewolf that he can resist the willpower of the vampires, and this makes him the hero, albeit one that must be destroyed himself. It helps that I saw this movie in a nice restored letterbox version, which compensates somewhat for the fact that it is dubbed, though not badly so. At any rate, it is a good starting place to explore the Naschy movies.

 

Flying Disc Man from Mars (1950)

FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS (1950)
(Serial)
Article 2194 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-19-2007
Posting Date: 8-15-2007
Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Featuring Walter Reed, Lois Collier, Gregory Gaye

A martian tempts a scientist with promises of power to get his help in preparing for an invasion of the earth. They find resistance in the form of an air patrol officer.

I can’t help but express my dismay with this one. The title promises a much greater amount of science-fiction thrills than is usual for the serial genre, but the disappointments start early. It initially seems like a remake of THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES , but this time the Martian doesn’t have any cool powers, and once he holes up in the volcano, he plays virtually no part in the action to come except for appearing for a few seconds and barking a few orders. Sure, the “flying disc” gets some air time, but other than the fact that it can fly straight up from the volcano, it pretty much functions like a normal airplane. It doesn’t even look like a disc; it’s pudgy and triangular. It’s also another one of those serials that was made after Republic lost their touch with the fight scenes, and this is especially disappointing since some of the locations of the fights would really lend themselves well to those scenes; when a fight takes place in a lab full of scientific glassware and almost all of it is still intact afterwards, that’s a bad sign. No, this one isn’t particularly awful; it’s just pretty ordinary. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the good guys ever figure out that they’re dealing with Martians.

 

From Beyond the Grave (1973)

FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE (1973)
Article 2189 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-14-2007
Posting Date: 8-10-2007
Directed by Kevin Connor
Featuring Peter Cushing, Ian Bannen, Ian Carmichael

Several customers visit an antique shop, and those that try to cheat the proprietor find themselves suffering strange and horrible fates.

I quite like this anthology from Amicus. I like all the stories at least a little, with my favorite being the second (“An Act of Kindness”), in which a man in a bad marriage strikes up a friendship with a poor veteran and his rather strange daughter (played to wonderful perfection by real life father and daughter Donald and Angela Pleasance). The last story (about a room behind an ominous door) is fairly straightforward, but colorful and entertaining. The first story (about a haunted mirror) is the most obvious tale of the bunch, but it is hauntingly moody and makes wonderful use of smoke. The third story (about a man haunted by an elemental) is amusing enough at first, but I found the ending a little weak. It’s all tied together by the framing story of the visits to the antique shop, and Peter Cushing is wonderful as the soft-spoken proprietor who you really don’t want to cheat, no matter what sort of temptation comes your way. All in all, this was a fairly solid horror anthology.