Ghost-Cat of the Cursed Swamp (1968)

Ghost-Cat of the Cursed Swamp (1968)
aka Kaibyo nori no numa
Article 5895 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-2-2020
Directed by Yoshihiro Ishikawa
Featuring Ryohei Uchida, Kotaro Satomi, Kyoko Mikage
Country: Japan
What it is: Ghost-cat movie

A pair of lovers find themselves in peril when the lord of the area takes a fancy to a woman. They run away to the cursed swamp…

This is perhaps the best ghost-cat movie I’ve seen to date, and there may be several reasons. One is this is one of the few that I’ve seen that actually have English subtitles, so I don’t have to guess what’s going on in the elaborate set-up that takes place before the scary stuff finally springs into action. A second reason is that this is the latest chronologically I’ve seen; those made during the fifties had this churned-out feel that this one avoids. But perhaps the biggest reason is that it has a nice, moody visual style, and it feels like a real effort was made to make this one stand out. This is a good thing, because the story itself is really pretty par for the course; it follows the basic template that I’ve found in place for almost all the ghost-cat movies I’ve seen. The one thing that is missing is the bizarre gymnastic theme; in most of the other movies, we have a scene in which the ghost-cat controls another character and makes them do gymnastic stunts; there’s no equivalent scene here. But for those looking for a solid and effective example of the genre, this is a good choice.

Gumbasia (1955)

Gumbasia (1955)
Article 5853 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-27-2020
Directed by Art Clokey
No cast
Country: USA
What it is: Abstract animation

As a jazzy score plays, clay molds itself into various shapes.

I haven’t covered anything as of yet from animator Art Clokey, largely because he mostly worked in television; he was responsible for the Gumby series, as well as “Davey and Goliath”. I originally thought I wasn’t going to review this as well, as my copy of it was nestled in the middle of a set of Gumby shorts, but a quick look at it as well as a quick check on IMDB cleared up that it was not made for a TV series; it was, in fact, a student film. It’s another of those abstract animation films (such as you’d expect from Norman McLaren) where images pass by as music plays, only in this case, Clokey’s chosen medium to animate is clay. As such, it’s about average for this sort of thing. It was striking enough, though, that it won Clokey the contract to do the Gumby series. I’m not sure who performs the score; no one is credited, and if some of the notes on IMDB are correct, it was shot without the score, which was added later.

The Great Experiment (1934)

The Great Experiment (1934)
Article 5852 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-23-2020
Director unknown
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Scrappy cartoon

A mad scientist is trying to concoct a potion, and Scrappy is his unwilling test subject.

This cartoon falls roughly into two parts. In the first, a mad scientist performs experiment on Scrappy and Baby. During the second, the action shifts to the 1990s, where Scrappy and Baby experience the world of the future where everyone wears working beanie-coptors. There’s plenty of fantastic content here to go around, but it doesn’t appear that much effort really went into concocting the story. It’s a little scary, a little humorous, a little whimsical, and has a little sense of wonder, but not enough of any of these qualities to make it stand out. Chalk it up as another cartoon obscurity.

The Great Cognito (1982)

The Great Cognito (1982)
Article 5851 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-21-2020
Directed by Will Vinton
Featuring the voices of John Morrison, Tim Conner, Brian Bressler
Country: USA
What it is: Claymation comedy

An impressionist not only can imitate the voices of people from World War II, but his face can change into them as well.

What we have here is a Claymation short where an impressionist gives a rapid-fire monologue in which he imitates historical personalities from the WWII era not only with his voice, but his face transforms as well. The transformations get more bizarre and outrageous as the short progresses, even to the point where he’s imitating whole groups of people (like The Andrews Sisters) as well as inanimate objects (like battleships). It’s pretty amusing, and it reminded me a little of some silent special-effects shorts in which clay would transform itself into famous people (I remember one involving Teddy Roosevelt). Will Vinton was one of the founders of Claymation, and coined the term as well. I’ll probably be covering a few other items of his before I’m all over.

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg (1936)

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg (1936)
Article 5850 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-19-2020
Directed by Burt Gillett and Tom Palmer
Featuring the voice of Walter Tetley
Country: USA
What it is: Van Bueren cartoon.

Felix the Cat has the goose that laid the golden eggs, and he’s using the riches it provides to help the poor and destitute. However, Captain Kidd the pirate discovers Felix’s secret, and makes off with the goose. Can Felix recover the goose?

My favorite Felix cartoons are from the silent era, where his reality-twisting tricks were highly entertaining. I don’t quite feel the same spirit in his sound era cartoons; though Felix does use some of his old tricks for a short time in the cartoon when he’s trying to figure out how to get aboard the pirate ship, for the most part he’s no different from the other run-of-the-mill cartoon heroes of the period. Still, this is a solidly made cartoon, and there are some fun moments, especially when Felix figures out how to take the pirate’s crew out of the action.

Goo Goo Goliath (1954)

Goo Goo Goliath (1954)
Article 5849 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-19-2020
Directed by Friz Freleng
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc, Bea Benaderet, Norman Nesbitt
Country: USA
What it is: Looney Tune

An inebriated stork is tasked with the job of delivering a giant’s baby. When the baby is misdelivered, an ordinary-sized family has to cope with a giant baby.

Though the giant baby does show a certain resemblance to Elmer Fudd, this is a one-off cartoon that at least partially serves as a parody of an educational film about the care and maintenance of a baby. Though it’s not one of the studio’s better entries, it does have a few good moments; my favorite is the scene where a giant tries to change a diaper on a normal-sized baby. The fantastic content is represented by the whole “stork delivering the baby” cliche, plus the existence of giants (living at “the top of the beanstalk”. It’s an okay entry from the studio.

Good Morning, Eve! (1934)

Good Morning, Eve! (1934)
Article 5848 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-16-2020
Directed by Roy Mack
Featuring Leon Errol, June MacCloy, Vernon Dent
Country: USA
What it is: Musical comedy short

Adam and Eve take a walk through time.

Well, there’s Adam, Eve, a talking snake (such as it is), some cavemen, the Roman god Mercury, King Arthur and some time travel; at least it doesn’t stint on the fantastic content. Still, at heart it’s just basically a comedy musical short; at each period of history there’s a dance number. Given the raciness of some of the costumes, I’m guessing this is pre-code, but the color photography is truly stunning. It’s a moderately entertaining bit of fluff, but nothing more.

The Good Egg (1945)

The Good Egg (1945)
Article 5847 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-15-2020
Directed by Chuck Jones
Featuring the voices of Arthur Lake and Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Government film for the navy

Seaman Hook is taught the value of War Bonds.

By now most Warner Brothers fans are aware of the Private Snafu shorts made for the military during WWII. Apparently, there was an even more obscure series around a character called Seaman Hook for the navy, though it appears that other studios also worked on this series. Hook is a fairly passive character here; he’s largely there to be talked at by his good and bad sides i.e. a tiny devil and a tiny angel version of himself. Most of the humor comes from the fight between the two mystical characters, but naturally the angel wins so he can tell Hook about the way War Bonds will benefit him. It’s a minor cartoon and pretty forgettable, but since this is the first time I’ve even heard of this character, I’m glad I saw it.

Good Against Evil (1977)

Good Against Evil (1977)
Article 5847 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-15-2020
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Featuring Dack Rambo, Elyssa Davalos, Richard Lynch
Country: USA
What it is: TV-Movie

A man falls in love with a fashion designer, unaware that all of the previous boyfriends for that designer have ended up dead. It turns out she’s under the control of a Satanist who has plans of his own…

As for the story, suffice it to say that it’s a TV-Movie mishmash of elements from ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE EXORCIST. That should tell you a lot about the type of scares you’re likely to encounter as well as an idea of (this being a TV-Movie) how intense they’re likely to be. The opening is a fast-moving compendium of cliches. Then we have romance for about thirty minutes or so before it starts trying to be scary again. Then, about two-thirds of the way through, we unexpectedly shift the story to a set of characters who mostly appear in the movie for the first time. then, about twenty-five minutes later, you realize that there simply isn’t enough time for the movie to resolve its central conflict. It was only then that something occurred to me that I should have been suspecting from the moment I knew it was a TV-Movie. And though it may be considered a spoiler by some, nonetheless, I’m going to reveal what that revelation was, as it’s the sort of thing that goes under the heading of “fair warning” as far as I’m concerned. This movie was a pilot for a non-anthological horror TV-Series that wasn’t picked up (which goes a long ways toward explaining to me why this movie has such a generic title). In short, there is no resolution to the central plot, nor will there ever be. Now you’re perfectly free to decide for yourself if this one is worth your time.

Goliath Awaits (1981)

Goliath Awaits (1981)
Article 5846 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-13-2020
Directed by Kevin Connor
Featuring Mark Harmon, Christopher Lee, Eddie Albert
Country: USA
What it is: A variation on the Atlantis stories

The remains of an ocean liner that went down 42 years ago are discovered on the ocean floor, but exploration reveals there may be life on board it. And there is… but the man hailed as the savior of the liner’s passengers may not want them to be rescued…

This three-and-a-half-hour TV movie (originally run over two nights) isn’t exactly easy to categorize in terms of its fantastic content; it’s not quite fantasy and not quite science fiction, though it’s pretty close in spirit to any number of genre movies that involve a lost civilization that has become isolated from the rest of humanity. It does have, however, a fairly far-fetched concept; that a group of people aboard an ocean liner could survive underwater in their sunken ship for forty years and develop a sub-culture so complex it even has room for a rebel faction to develop. For me, the opening scenes that lead into the story are more mysterious and memorable than the story proper; once four of the rescuers make their way into the interior of the ship, things get a little more predictable and a lot more tiresome. Still, it is nice to see Christopher Lee in a strong role (as the savior of the people), and to catch John Carradine in a role where he gets more than a couple of minutes of screen time as well as not proving the hammiest actor in the cast; the latter award goes to Frank Gorshin, whose perpetual scowl and odd performance distracts our attention. It’s a little sad to see an interesting premise give way to a fairly predictable story; sadly, the extra length of it just causes it to become a bit more cluttered. It’s passable, but could have been much better.