Fatal Games (1984)

FATAL GAMES (1984)
Article 3877 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-17-2012
Posting Date: 3-26-2012
Directed by Michael Elliot
Featuring Sally Kirkland, Lynn Banashek, Sean Masterson
Country: USA
What it is: Slasher film

A group of Olympic hopefuls are being stalked one by one by a killer who uses a javelin as a murder weapon.

Who is the killer? Is it one of the two coaches? The doctor? The nurse? Or one of the students? All I’ll say is that the revelations towards the end of the movie give us one of the silliest slashers I’ve encountered yet for this series. The rest is pretty much by the book, with a lot of nudity towards the beginning, forgettable characters and a lot of pointless scenes. Restricting the slasher’s murder weapon to a single item makes the murders duller than usual. It’s not the worst slasher I’ve seen, but I doubt that I’ll remember much about it in a couple of days.

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The Final Eye (1982)

THE FINAL EYE (1982)
aka Computercide
TV-Movie
Article 3849 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-17-2012
Posting Date: 2-27-2012
Directed by Robert Michael Lewis
Featuring Joe Cortese, Tom Clancy, Susan George
Country: USA
What it is: Science fiction mystery

In the future, the last remaining private eye undertakes an investigation for a woman who claims that a hospitalized man that is believed to be her father is actually not; he’s twenty years too young. In order to find the truth, he and the woman pretend to be married artists to infiltrate a private paradise community with a secret.

I can’t get a confirmation of this, but I’m willing to bet this was an intended pilot for a TV series; not only did it not result in a series, but this pilot sat on the shelf for five years before even getting shown on network TV. I’m not surprised. As a potential TV series, the premise is flimsy but not unworkable; however, the pilot itself is pretty weak. It’s not the acting, which is fairly decent, and it’s not the writing, which is passable; it’s the production itself that is at fault. It’s an action/suspense premise with little action and no suspense, at least partially because the whole movie takes a sort of wry comic tone that is at odds with any sense of tension; the movie seems to slowly lope from one not-quite-funny scene to another. It certainly doesn’t help that the theme music resembles the theme from the TV series “Get Smart”; if you’re going to try to conjure up something like that, you’d better be a lot funnier than this one is. In the end, the movie just never becomes more compelling than a half-smile is; as a series, it would have died on the vine. In the end, Donald Pleasence steals the movie if for no other reason than he’s Donald Pleasence, but let’s face it, it really didn’t take much.

Flickan och Djavulen (1944)

FLICKAN OCH DJAVULEN (1944)
aka The Girl and the Devil
Article 3792 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-22-2011
Posting Date: 1-1-2012
Directed by Hampe Faustman
Featuring Gunn Wallgren, Stig Jarrel, Kolbjorn Knudsen
Country: Sweden
What it is: Witch’s curse movie

Due to a witch’s curse, a young woman falls under the control of the devil and is used to destroy a family.

Here’s another one from my “ones-that-got-away” list that I finally managed to see, and the copy I found is in unsubtitled Swedish, so much of the detail is lost to me. For me, the most striking section was near the beginning, which (as far as I can tell) deals with a stillborn child thrown into a river followed by a suicide. Gunn Wallgren plays the woman controlled by the devil to destroy the family, and she acquires a split personality; she does an effective job of coming across as two very different people at times. There’s an effective moment involving a barrel of milk, and some nice shots of the devil character tooling around in his horse and cart. All in all, it was interesting enough, but it’s impossible for me to evaluate as a whole until I understand more of the dialogue.

The Flying Saucer (1964)

THE FLYING SAUCER (1964)
aka Il disco volante
Article 3768 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-26-2011
Posting Date: 12-8-2011
Directed by Tinto Brass
Featuring Alberto Sordi, Silvana Mangano, Monica Vitti
Country: Italy
What it is: Satire / Black comedy

A small Italian town has undergone a rash of flying saucer sightings. But will any of those actually viewing the saucers and meeting the inhabitants be believed?

I’m not quite sure yet how I feel about this one. It is nice to be watching an Italian comedy that is dry and dark rather than one that is maniacally over the top, but I did find myself wondering if some of the humor simply didn’t translate well in the dubbed version I saw. It’s also a little hard to classify; I used the term “black comedy” above, but it’s not near as consistently dark as other movies for which I’d use the term, yet it’s hard to not feel the inherent darkness to the story when several characters are forced to undergo electroshock therapy because of their claims to have seen the saucers. The downbeat ending seems a little simple and obvious to me, but it is rather interesting to see how the four characters played by Alberto Sordi all end up trapped by the situation, and the movie does leave you guessing at times. Still, my favorite plot situation has to do with Silvano Mangano’s widow, whose scheme to make a fortune off the situation backfires largely as a result of her own scheming. And I found the tale of the drunken priest rather bittersweet. Overall, it’s flawed, but rather interesting.

Fire and Ice (1983)

FIRE AND ICE (1983)
Animated Feature
Article 3767 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-25-2011
Posting Date: 12-7-2011
Directed by Ralph Bakshi
Featuring the voices of Randy Norton, Cynthia Leake, Steve Sandor
Country: USA
What it is: Epic fantasy, sword and sorcery style

The only surviving warrior of a destroyed town tries to save a princess who has been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer.

Of the four Ralph Bakshi movies I’ve seen for this series, this is easily the most cohesive stylistically. That’s probably because its intent seems pretty clear, which is to bring a Frank Frazetta painting to life, and since Frazetta himself was present as part of the creative team for the movie, it manages to keep itself focused on that goal. The story is a pretty standard compendium of Sword and Sorcery cliches, but I would imagine that fans of the form would be satisfied; after all, there really hadn’t been a lot of cinematic examples of the subgenre. Still, though it’s often used to good effect her, I did find myself pondering somewhat the limitations of rotoscoping. At any rate, I do think the movie works better than WIZARDS.

Fiend (1980)

FIEND (1980)
Article 3766 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-24-2011
Posting Date: 12-6-2011
Directed by Don Dohler
Featuring Don Leifert, Richard Nelson, Elaine White
Country: USA
What it is: Low budget regional horror

A man is suspicious of his new neighbor – a creepy violin teacher. What he doesn’t know is that the teacher is actually a resurrected corpse who has to kill to keep his body from decaying…

I’ve encountered director Don Dohler before with THE ALIEN FACTOR. His movies are threadbare and silly, and if you want to pick out examples of bad acting, plot holes, bad special effects, etc., his movies will give you plenty of opportunities. Yet I must admit that I’m charmed somewhat by his movies; though I can’t quite put my finger on it, there’s something rather likable about them. I get the feeling Dohler loved making these movies, and somehow that comes through in the movies themselves. He’s the kind of filmmaker that makes me feel that if he could make a movie, so could I, and that the whole process would be rather fun. And that’s something that really makes his cheap and cheesy films worthwhile.

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.