Goodness, a Ghost (1940)

Article 4604 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-10-2014
Directed by Harry D’Arcy
Featuring Harry Langdon
Country: USA
What it is: Comedy short

A sound effects man gets an acting break to play a cop while wearing his grandfather’s police uniform. However, the ghost of his grandfather shows up and insists that if he’s going to wear the uniform, he has live up to the standards of a real cop, and won’t let him back out when he’s confronted by dangerous criminals.

I’m going to start out by saying that I’m not familiar with Harry Langdon’s work from the silent era; reportedly, he was at his peak during that era and his sound work doesn’t live up to it. Therefore, I don’t really have that benchmark with which to compare this one. I say this because I get the sense that fans of the comic are appalled by this one, and though I don’t find the short particularly good (it’s passable at best), I don’t find it awful. It does seem to go for easy and obvious slapstick gags, and the poker game is perhaps the sequence that I found the most amusing. Still, I find if I imagine someone like Buster Keaton being stuck in this role, I can sense the disappointment fans of Langdon might feel at this one.

The Gory Murder (1978)

aka Can ku da fen shi
Article 4585 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-21-2014
Directed by Yi-Jung Hua
Featuring Chiang-neng Chen, Yi-hsing Chen, Yung-Li Chen
Country: Hong Kong
What it is: Crime thriller

The police discover the dismembered corpse of a women. They must try to discover her identity, and find out who was responsible for her death.

Some movies are hard to watch. In this case, it’s not so much the unpleasant subject matter (which involves a serial rapist), but rather the presentation of the movie that is the culprit. The movie was originally in Cantonese, but it’s been very badly post-dubbed, and I’m not sure whether it’s been dubbed into its own language or into another. Fortunately, it has English subtitles, but they don’t show up well on the print (they vanish against a white background, for example), and since I seem to be watching a panned-and-scanned version, some of the text is missing. Furthermore, the movie is full of bad sound and has a jarring musical score. Combined altogether, these make watching the movie a difficult, sometimes headache-inducing experience. Still, from what I can make out, it’s not really a horror movie; most of it plays out like a police procedural. Still, the murder details are horrific, and a scene where the murderer undergoes guilt hallucinations (body parts jumping out in front of him, hands coming through the walls) does offer some horror content. It’s often incoherent, and I suspect chunks of the story are missing. I don’t think the movie itself is worthless, but it certainly doesn’t transcend the painful process of watching it.

Gladiatorerna (1969)

aka The Gladiators, The Peace Game
Article 4485 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-25-2014
Directed by Peter Watkins
Featuring Arthur Pentelow, Frederick Danner, Hans Bendrik
Country: Sweden
What it is: Futuristic drama

In the near future, the governments of the world have abandoned wars in favor of a televised competition known as the Peace Game, in which various teams compete to make their way through a booby-trapped maze.

The idea of replacing war with an organized competition of this sort isn’t really a new concept; what makes this one compelling is the usual documentary-like style that Peter Watkins brings to the story. Which is not to say that the movie is easy to follow; parts of this movie are very difficult to follow, and though it may be a quirk of my print, the fact that goodly portions of the movie are not in English (IMDB lists four other languages) and have no English subtitles make it even more difficult. I do get the sense that the movie takes a very cynical look at the military mindset on hand here, where a compassionate ally is considered a more disgusting threat than the enemy army itself. As a result, despite the complexity of much that is going on, the movie occasionally lapses into being simplistic; I think I’ve encountered this problem with some of Watkin’s movies before, in particular with PUNISHMENT PARK. Still, there is a power to Watkin’s style, and I found the movie compelling, though not up to the level of THE WAR GAME.

A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990)

Article 4461 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-26-2014
Directed by Stan Winston
Featuring Anthony Michael Hall, Jerry Orbach, Claudia Christian
Country: USA
What it is: Action fantasy

When a rookie cop bungles a sting operation, he discovers that the man responsible for his failure can be identified by an unexpected witness – a gnome that has emerged from the underground to recharge a crystal.

Well, I will say this much; this action cop adventure with a fantasy twist isn’t appreciably worse than I though it would be. However, it’s not appreciably better either. It’s one of those movies where you wait for the Gnorm to start making off-color comments, because you know that’s just the sort of “cool” thing that movies like this go for, and, sure enough, once Gnorm meets the female cop, we start to learn the Gnome terms for body parts. The rest is pretty standard stuff indeed, and the only time I was really amused is when the hero uses his standing as a policeman to take over a vehicle to give pursuit, he opts for a hearse leading a funeral procession. In a sense, I’m grateful that the movie wasn’t so irritating it was painful; it’s just one of those movies that has no surprises and leaves no real impressions. And I’m also grateful that I was able to resist peppering this review with words that began with ‘N’ so I could add a ‘G’ in front of them.

The G.I. Executioner (1971)

aka Wit’s End
Article 4438 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-2-2014
Directed by Joel M. Reed
Featuring Tom Keena, Victoria Racimo, Angelique Pettyjohn
Country: USA
What it is: 86 minutes of exposed footage

Someone is trying to kill a journalist in Singapore, and it has to do with a kidnapped scientist being held for ransom.

Angelique Pettyjohn appears naked quite a lot in this movie. There you have, in a nutshell, the only reason why anyone would want to see this movie. It certainly isn’t the action; you’ll need the patience of a martyr before it shows up, and the forgiveness of a saint for the lack of competence with which it is dished out. It’s certainly not the plot, which is mostly found in the narration during the credits and then lost in the muddle of the movie itself. It’s not the acting; I didn’t see any. It is most clearly not the fantastic content, which can be summarized like this – the scientist was apparently working on something involving antimatter. Not only does the antimatter experiment play no active part in the story, you never see any of the experimentation. Nor do you ever see the scientist. In fact, if a two-second piece of footage where it was mentioned in passing in conversation were excised from the movie, you wouldn’t even know there was any fantastic content at all. I can’t even bring myself to call it a Gizmo Maguffin; it’s more like the faint outline of the rumor of one. That this one sat on the shelf for 13 years before being released is no surprise. The only two reasons I think that it was finally released by Troma is because it was directed by the man who gave us BLOODSUCKING FREAKS, and because of Pettyjohn’s lack of wardrobe. And if there is a G.I. executioner in the plot somewhere, he’s kept safely out of the existing footage of the movie. Quite frankly, this movie may be the single biggest waste of my time for my whole project.

P.S. It has come to my attention that this movie did actually get a release before Troma picked it up in 1984. It doesn’t make the movie any better, though.

Genesis II (1973)

Article 4437 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-1-2014
Directed by John Llewellyn Moxey
Featuring Alex Cord, Mariette Hartley, Ted Cassidy
Country: USA
What it is: Failed science fiction TV pilot

A man being used to test suspended animation is sealed alive in a chamber during an earthquake and revived 150 years later. He tries to adjust to the post-apocalyptic world in which he has returned.

Gene Roddenberry made a couple of stabs at TV series during the early seventies in which a man from the present ends up in the world of the post-apocalyptic future. I rather wish one of them had made it to a series, if for no other reason than to see if it would have have flown on its strengths or foundered on its weaknesses. It’s obvious that he was trying to an earthbound version of “Star Trek” in which the hero could encounter a variety of cultures; at least, I hope this one wouldn’t have ended up being just a continuing conflict between the people of Pax and the tyrannical mutants. That being said, I am somewhat disappointed here at the choice of the mutant society here as the society he encounters, as it’s just another oppressive dystopia. What I really wonder is whether an engaging group of characters would have emerged from the series; in many ways, I think the main appeal of “Star Trek” was that we got quite attached to the characters, and based what I saw here, I didn’t see that happening. For me, the most interesting character was Lynne Marta’s character, whose belief that lust was what caused the apocalypse and whose mention of Saint Freud was one of my favorite moments of the movie. Granted, I also liked Ted Cassidy, but that’s less because of the character he was playing and more because he was Ted Cassidy. Overall, I thought this pilot was okay, and I enjoyed it well enough. I did notice one logical flaw, though. Mariette Hartley’s half-human half-mutant character had two navels, the result of the fact that the mutants had a two-heart circulatory system. This is all very well and good, but it’s also revealed that her mother was the human half of the union… and wouldn’t that mean that daughter would have only had one navel?

Goldface, the Fantastic Superman (1967)

aka Goldface, il fantastico superman
Article 4396 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-19-2013
Directed by Bitto Albertini
Featuring Espartaco Santoni, Evi Marandi, Big Matthews
Country: Italy / Spain
What it is: Wrestling hero action

Wrestling hero Goldface takes on a terrorist organization specializing in extortion that is being run by a supervillain known as the Cobra.

Hey, here’s a novelty; it’s a masked wrestler movie not from Mexico, but from Italy. For the record, they may be better at this type of movie than than the Mexicans are; the movie is faster moving and has a lot more action than the Santo movies. It also has something that is generally in short supply in the Mexican masked wrestler movies; it has a genuine and intentional sense of humor. I like that Goldface has a peanut-munching sidekick who adds to the amusement, and my favorite scene has Goldface and his sidekick in a Goldface costume causing a villain to waste his gunfire shooting at an assortment of Goldface-shaped balloons. Still, it doesn’t quite have the charm of the Santo movies, and at least Santo is usually tussling with fantastically-themed enemies (martians, vampires, ghosts, etc), whereas Goldface is here facing off against a bargain basement Bondian supervillain. This brings up the problem of fantastic content. Despite the James Bond trappings, there is no gadgetry at play in this movie (unless the inflatable Goldface balloons count for something), and the main fantastic content that my sources list is problematic; according to them, both Goldface and his sidekick have super strength. Now I will admit that they both are strong, but there’s not a point in this movie where I see any demonstration of strength that seems humanly impossible. Still, this is certainly not the first time I’ve covered a movie about a masked hero with no superpowers for this series.