The House at the Edge of the Park (1980)

The House at the Edge of the Park (1980)
aka La casa sperduta nel parco
Article 5871 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-25-2020
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
Featuring David Hess, Annie Belle, Christian Borromeo
Country: Italy
What it is: You can figure it out

A sadistic rapist is invited to a party of upper-class people, and begins terrorizing them.

If when combining the title of this movie with the fact that the lead is played by David Hess, you find yourself thinking of a similarly-titled movie from several years earlier, you’re on the right track. If you recognize the director’s name and know what type of movie he’s most famous for, you’ll have an idea of the pleasantness level of the movie. The description of this movie on the movie set on which I found it says it has partial nudity and mild violence; the person who wrote that either did not see the movie or has a very different definition of the terms “mild” and “partial”. Yes, the movie has its supporters, but I’m not one of them; I found it to be a grueling stretch of predictable unpleasantness, neither entertaining nor instructive. Exploitation fans might find some use for this one; me, I’ll be quite happy if I never see it again.

The House of Tomorrow (1949)

The House of Tomorrow (1949)
Article 5870 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-25-2020
Directed by Tex Avery
Featuring the voices of Frank Graham, Don Messick, and the body of Joi Lansing
Country: USA
What it is: Tex Avery blackout gag cartoon

Take a tour of the House of Tomorrow, and enjoy all the new luxuries!

Yes, it’s another Tex Avery blackout gag style cartoon. The last time I covered one of these was in another Tex Avery cartoon, and though that was for Warner Brothers, this is for MGM. In the last review, I mentioned that there should only be one dog-and-tree gag, and though this doesn’t have any, it does have the dog-and-fire-hydrant gag, which is pretty much the same thing; however, he restricts it to one. Instead, he peppers this one with as many mother-in-law gags as he can, which gets equally old. Overall, though, this is a good cartoon, but for Tex to be at his best, you really have to catch him in a non-blackout style cartoon; give him the right character, and he can go nuts with it. And, for the adults, there is a clip of Joi Lansing; this is proof positive that many cartoons weren’t made only for kiddies.

House of Magic (1937)

House of Magic (1937)
Article 5869 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-25-2020
Directed by Walter Lantz
No voice actors
Country: USA
What it is: Walter Lantz cartoon

Three monkeys try to get out of a thunderstorm by ducking into a house of magic. They try to sleep, but are bothered by the magical items in the store.

During the mid-thirties, it looks like a real attempt was made to make Meany, Miny and Moe (the three monkeys in the cartoon) cartoon stars; I gather that they didn’t really make it big, as no further cartoons were made featuring them after 1937. I don’t know how they were in the other cartoons, but I didn’t think they were all that bad here; they had a certain degree of personality, and the gags are okay. I also like that there’s no talk in the cartoon; everything is told visually. It’s no classic, but I found it amusing enough.

Hot to Trot (1988)

Hot to Trot (1988)
Article 5868 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-24-2020
Directed by Michael Dinner
Featuring Bobcat Goldthwait, Dabney Coleman, John Candy
Country: USA
What it is: I miss Francis

A ne’er-do-well inherits half of a brokerage firm and a talking horse. Can the talking horse help him to succeed at the brokerage firm?

I’d heard of Bobcat Goldthwait, but I never caught his act. If, however, this movie catches him at his usual shtick, I don’t think I missed much. Ultimately, though, I suspect that the movie doesn’t really do justice to him; from what I gather from the trivia on IMDB, he was talked into doing it for the money. It’s pretty much what I’d suspect from an eighties movie that borrowed from a much earlier concept (the Francis the talking mule and Mr. Ed talking animals gimmick); it mostly uses the idea to take advantage of the increased permissiveness to add off-color jokes to the proceedings. Every once in a while I catch an idea that I find clever; I like the concept of the human having to move his lips to make it look like he’s saying what the horse is saying. Mostly, the movie is just really lame and obvious. There’s a few fun movie clips that pop up, and some of the trivia on IMDB is interesting (the lead role was originally supposed to be Joan Rivers?), but other than that, it’s a bore. Incidentally, the horse was originally voiced by Elliott Gould, but after some advanced screenings, John Candy was called in to redub; he ignored most of the dialogue in the script and ad-libbed.

Hot Cross Bunny (1948)

Hot Cross Bunny (1948)
Article 5867 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-23-2020
Directed by Robert McKimson
Featuring the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Bugs Bunny cartoon

A doctor intends to perform an experiment in which Bugs Bunny will switch brains with that of a chicken.

Robert McKimson’s cartoons were often overloaded with extraneous chatter, but much of his work still holds up. This is a fairly decent Bugs Bunny cartoon with a bit of science fiction and horror to the proceedings; on top of the experiment itself, there’s a scene in which Bugs is scared by a skeleton in the closet. The best moment here is when Bugs is wheeled into the operating chamber and believes he’s there to entertain the doctors, so he does an impression of Lionel Barrymore, performs a magic trick, does his famous buck and wing dance, and performs that bizarre Danny Kaye style song Daffy performed in BOOK REVUE. It’s not one of Bugs’ best, but is still fun enough to get by.

Hoppity Pop (1946)

Hoppity Pop (1946)
Article 5866 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-21-2020
Directed by Norman McLaren
No cast
Country: Canada
What it is: The Greatest Squiggles On Earth

Three abstract shapes perform to calliope music.

We’re in the world of abstract animation again, and Norman McLaren is my favorite practitioner of this sort of thing. What I admire most is that he can anthropomorphize abstract objects with apparent ease; these squiggles mutate and gyrate in such a way that they come off as clown circus acrobats. Granted, the presence of calliope music goes a long way towards making that sensation work, and I’m sure it was chosen towards that end. Nevertheless, I think McLaren goes a long way towards making abstract animation accessible to those who might otherwise have little use for it. Me, I found this one a lot of fun.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)
Article 5865 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-20-2020
Directed by Joe Johnston
Featuring Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman
Country: USA / Mexico
What it is: Shopping cart movie, eighties style

When four children are accidentally shrunk to tiny size by a new invention, they must undertake an odyssey across the back yard.

This is the first time I’ve seen this movie, but I’ve heard about it for years. Somewhere during that time it dawned on me that it was nothing more than a late eighties revival of the Disney “shopping cart” movies. The animated opening credits certainly make it look promising, especially with its borrowing of the “Powerhouse” theme that popped up in Warner Brothers cartoons. The first ten minutes or so keep the fun going, but sadly, things start going downhill after that. Part of the problem lies in the fact that it’s neither as funny, exciting, or fast-paced as it should be. Rick Moranis is in a role he could be having a lot of fun with, but the script really doesn’t make good use of him and spends far too much time with the unpleasant father next door. It’s also paced too leisurely, and it takes itself a lot more seriously than it should, which is a problem when none of the characters are really all that interesting. Ultimately the movie needed a much better script and should have decided just what it really wanted to be; as it is, it falls short in practically every area.

Hollywood Capers (1935)

Hollywood Capers (1935)
Article 5864 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-18-2020
Directed by Jack King
Featuring the voices of Tommy Bond and Bernice Hansen
Country: USA
What it is: Early Looney Tunes

Beans the Cat tries to break into the Warmer Brothers studio, but finds himself rejected. But can anyone save them when the Frankenstein monster appears?

Porky Pig first appeared with several other characters in a cartoon called I HAVEN”T GOT A HAT, but wasn’t immediately chosen as the most promising from that group. I can understand why they may have tried Beans the Cat first; he was the character who bore the greatest resemblance to a certain mouse name Mickey. However, you’d think they’d have given him something in the way of an interesting character; as it is, all they give him is a lame joke based on his name that’s not all that funny the first time and less so on each repetition. They certainly don’t give him much of a story here; the first half of the cartoon has him breaking into the studio (there are some fun Hollywood caricatures here), the second half has him battling the Frankenstein monster (here portrayed as a robot). Once the monster goes on the march, the rest of the plot goes out the window. Outside of the caricatures, the most interesting thing here is catching some of the pamphlets in the background; there are some references to the staff at Termite Terrace, and I caught at least one referring to Tedd Pierce.

Holiday Highlights (1940)

Holiday Highlights (1940)
Article 5863 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-18-2020
Directed by Tex Avery
Featuring the voices of Tex Avery, Sara Berner, Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Blackout gag Looney Toon

A look is taken at the various holidays throughout the year.

Cartoons are rarely at their best in blackout-gag style cartoons, but they’re usually at least mildly entertaining. The appearance of a witch and Santa in their respective holidays adds the fantastic content to this one, though I should like to point out that their respective blackout gags are a little too similar. Furthermore, I’m pretty sure there’s an aesthetic limitation to the number of dog-and-tree gags you can have in a cartoon without it starting to feel like a lazy gag (one), and this one breaks that rule. Overall, this one is par for the course, neither much better or much worse than others of its type.

Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931)

Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931)
Article 5862 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-17-2020
Directed by Rudolf Ising
Featuring the voice of Rudolf Ising
Country: USA
What it is: Early Merrie Melody

Piggy and Fluffy take a ride on a riverboat.

Though they would eventually emerge as one of the great theatrical cartoon companies, the early Warner Brothers cartoons were extremely forgettable. This one is mostly song and dance, followed by an unexpected horror sequence and then finishing up with a bare smidgen of plot. The horror sequence has a character named Uncle Tom ending up in a graveyard and being frightened by ambulatory skeletons, who are, of course, ready to do their own singing and dancing. I don’t know if Piggy and Fluffy were regular characters for the series (their big star at that time was Bosko), but they serve here as little more than ersatz Mickey and Minnie. Routine.