Huey’s Ducky Daddy (1953)

Huey’s Ducky Daddy (1953)
Article 5704 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-13-2020
Directed by Izzy Sparber and Dave Tendlar
Featuring the voices of Mae Questel and Sid Raymond
Country: USA
What it is: Oversized animated baby antics

Baby Huey’s daddy is forced to take his son fishing. Disaster ensues.

By my usual rules of cartoon fantastic content, I might not have covered this one (since most of the fantastic content falls under the categories of talking animals and comic exaggeration, which are animation traditions rather than real fantastic content), but since the Walt Lee guide mentions this one, I’ll cover it. Baby Huey certainly exhibits super strength a few times in this one, and the presence of a shark at one point gives us a bit of horror as well. As a cartoon, it’s mostly pretty so-so, but the occasional gag works all right; my favorite is finding out how a lighthouse works. At any rate, it’s fun to finally have gotten around to writing another review after a long gap.

El hombre y el bestia (1973)

El hombre y la bestia (1973)
Article 5696 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-17-2019
Directed by Julian Soler
Featuring Enrique Lizalde, Sasha Montenegro, Carlos Lopez Moctezuma
Country: Mexico
What it is: Jekyll and Hyde all over again

A doctor develops a concoction that brings out his evil side.

I picked up this movie years ago thinking it would turn out to be the 1951 movie of the same name, which was then on my hunt list, but I saw my mistake. It sat around until I encountered it going through my collection. My copy is in Spanish with no English subtitles, but given that it’s based on the very familiar Jekyll and Hyde story, it’s not that difficult to sort out. However, even though it doesn’t appear to be religiously following any of the earlier versions I’ve seen, unless there’s something really interesting happening in the dialogue I can’t understand, it doesn’t appear to be a particularly interesting version. The most interesting touch to my eyes is a moment where the Hyde character tries to force a woman to drink the potion. All in all, this isn’t one of the better takes on the story.

Harlequin’s Story (1907)

Harlequin’s Story (1907)
aka La legende de Polichinelle
Article 5646 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-10-2019
Directed by Albert Capellani and Lucien Nonguet
Featuring Max Linder
Country: France
What it is: Adventures of a clown

A clown sets out with an army of dwarfs to rescue his girl who has been turned into a giant dancing doll.

This looks like one of those shorts that isn’t intended to tell a whole story, but to enact the climax only of a well-known tale, though the story of Polichinelle certainly isn’t well known by me. It doesn’t make what there is left of the story difficult to follow, but the presentation here is merely passable. The great French silent comedian Max Linder in the role of the title character is put forth as the main attraction, but this one is hardly representative of his work, and he isn’t really given anything special to do. The best thing about this one is the design of the shop where the hero takes the girl. The worst thing about it is that it ends with a long and pointless dance scene. This one isn’t particularly worth seeking out.

The Hen that Laid the Golden Eggs (1905)

The Hen that Laid the Golden Eggs (1905)
aka La poule aux oeufs d’or
Article 5644 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-8-2019
Directed by Gaston Velle
Featuring Julienne Mathieu
Country: France
What it is: Silent fairy tale

A poor man wins a magical hen from a conjurer. It turns out the hen lays golden eggs, which makes him rich. What could go wrong?

Though I’m a big fan of Georges Melies, I’ve always tried to be forthright about his weaknesses as a film-maker. This seems like an odd way to open a review of a movie by Gaston Velle, but sometimes a movie by someone who avoids those weaknesses can serve as a good contrast. This movie clearly owes a debt to the work of Melies, especially when the hen turns into a dancer and performs a group dance with several other transformed hens. But the film avoids some of Melies’s weaknesses. For one thing, the plot feels mapped out rather than thrown together. Also, the crowd scenes seem rather more focused than equivalent scenes by Melies; with the latter you often don’t know who to focus in on during one of these scenes, while it’s much easier here. Also, the acting seems more cinematic than theatrical; the characters come off as a bit more real. Still, it should be pointed out that Velle’s cinematic career didn’t really last any longer than Melies’s.

Have a Heart (1928)

Have a Heart (1928)
Article 5582 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-4-2018
Director unknown
Featuring Jimmy Aubrey, Bud Duncan, Fred Parker
Country: USA
What it is: Silent comedy short

A man resolves to solve the mystery of the haunted mansion in order to get a job as a reporter.

Here’s another silent short which follows the well-worn path of milking a spooky house for the laughs therein. The fact that the haunted mansion is considered a mystery to be solved should clue you in that the scares will be faked, though that alone wouldn’t disqualify this one on the grounds of lacking fantastic content. One nice thing, though, is that the motive for faking the haunting of the mansion has its own degree of fantastic content; instead of the usual band of counterfeiters, we have a mad scientist performing experiments with an artificial heart (hence the title). It’s a pretty standard silent short, but my favorite sequence occurs at the beginning when our hero has trouble just finding out the correct time.

The Harryhausen Chronicles (1998)

The Harryhausen Chronicles (1998)
Article 5573 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-29-2018
Directed by Richard Schickel
Featuring Ray Harryhausen, Leonard Nimoy, Ray Bradbury
Country: USA
What it is: Documentary

The life and career of special effects artist Ray Harryhausen are explored.

At the moment, I’m going through my DVDs and watching everything I can on them, and though I’ve seen quite a few documentary extras on them, I usually don’t review them; mostly, they’re interesting enough and tell me a few things I didn’t know, but most of them aren’t really special in any way. This one is an exception. It is both the story of and a tribute to Ray Harryhausen, and it features a lot of footage of Ray himself talking about some of his creations, as well as interviews with other special effects artists and lifelong friend Ray Bradbury. The movie clip footage is well-chosen and useful, and it features rare footage of special effects from projects that were never completed. I can honestly say my respect for the man and his work has gone up a few notches, especially when I gain an understanding of the difficulty of filming such sequences as skeleton battle from JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS or the animation of the seven-headed hydra. The fact that most of his work was a one-man operation only makes the accomplishment greater. I’m really glad to have caught this one, and highly recommend it.

The Henpecked Duck (1941)

The Henpecked Duck (1941)
Article 5484 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-27-2017
Directed by Robert Clampett
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and Sara Berner
Country: USA
What it is: Daffy Duck cartoon

Daffy is taken to divorce court by his wife when he loses her egg.

I’m setting down a ground rule for my coverage of cartoons for this series. The rule is that when it comes to discussing the fantastic content of the cartoon, it has to have something beyond the two common cartoon traditions of talking/anthropomorphic animals and comic exaggeration. This being a Daffy Duck cartoon, it has both of those elements, but the reason I decided to review it is because it has one extra element, in that the loss of the egg was the result of Daffy performing magic tricks on it and then proving unable to retrieve the egg from the magic ether to which it vanished. This cartoon is about average for the series; it falls a little too conveniently into the overly common comic situation of the nagging wife and the henpecked husband, but it has a few good gags in it. My favorite of the latter involves a funny comment from a chicken near the end of the short. Perhaps the best thing about it is the animation; the animation of Mrs. Duck when she’s screaming for a divorce is pretty sharp.

Hunter of the Unknown (1966)

aka Agent 3S3: Massacre of the Sun; Agente 3S3, massacro al sole
Article 5429 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-19-2017
Directed by Sergio Sollima
Featuring George Ardisson, Frank Wolff, Evi Marandi
Country: Italy / Spain / France
What it is: Spyghetti

An American secret agent is sent to the island of San Felipe, the site of a revolution, to find and bring back a scientist who may be working for the Russians.

Here’s another swallow from the bottomless well of Italian spy movies made in the wake of the popularity of the James Bond movies. Outside of the fact that the climax of the movie features several people using infrared glasses to see people in the dark (I can’t think of an earlier movie that uses this gimmick), this one is pretty standard issue and doesn’t really stand out from the pack. As for the fantastic content, you’ll notice that there’s a scientist involved in the storyline, and he’s working on a new type of weapon, so that adds a touch of science fiction to the proceedings, although it remains in the realms of marginalia. It’s business as usual, though I do wonder in the long run which type of movie I’m going to see most often – these spyghetti films or the sword and sandal films.

Haunted Range (1926)

Article 5407 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-28-2017
Directed by Paul Hurst
Featuring Ken Maynard, Alma Rayford, Harry Moody
Country: USA
What it is: Weird Western, silent style

A new cowboy owns the Baldwin ranch, but he discovers there’s a gang in town run by a man named Foster that doesn’t like him. Furthermore, the ranch seems to be haunted by a night-riding ghost.

It took me quite a while to hunt down a copy of this one, and the print I found doesn’t appear to be anywhere near complete; the opening is missing, there are jump cuts, and altogether the movie runs about thirty minutes. There is, however, enough here to get a good idea of what it’s about; the crucial final reel is mostly there. It looks like a fairly decent entry in the genre, though it does have the requisite scared black character whenever the ghost shows up. My favorite scene features a chase up a steep cliff. And there is one bizarre scene that I’d really like an explanation for; at one point. several cowboys get distracted by a bevy of bathing beauties that appear out of nowhere. Why? I don’t know, but maybe that’s why they’re called weird westerns.

Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

aka Night of the Zombies, Virus
Article 5403 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-24-2017
Directed by Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso
Featuring Margit Evelyn Newton, Franco Garofalo, Selan Karay
Country: Italy / Spain
What it is: Italian zombie flick

A chemical plant in New Guinea begins leaking a chemical that causes the dead to turn into cannibalistic zombies. Four commandos team up with two reporters to reach the plant.

A commando carrying two guns is searching the cellar of a house that may be infested with cannibalistic zombies that can only be dispatched by a shot through the head. He finds a wardrobe full of clothes. What does he do? He puts down both of his guns, puts on a tutu and top hat, and does an impromptu song and dance throughout the cellar. It was at this point of the movie that I took a quantum leap in my loss of any desire for the survival of the human race (or, at least of the human race as portrayed in this movie).

For Italian zombie gore fans, this movie must seem like a treat; it starts the zombie action early and keeps a steady stream of it going throughout the whole of it, getting a little ghastlier each time. It’s almost as relentless in its having characters act with jaw-dropping stupidity; outside of the example listed above, the commandos (who find out early on that the zombies can only be defeated by a bullet through the head) insist on taking endless body shots at the rampaging zombies, and while waiting for an elevator to descend and the door to open, they all turn away from it so the zombies inside can take them by surprise. The movie throws in a bit of the jungle cannibal genre and peppers itself with stock footage of animals to fill the running time. I’m not a gorehound, so I spent most of the movie just shaking my head in disbelief. And with as much gore as it has, I have no doubt this film probably has a cult following.