Killdozer (1974)

KILLDOZER (1974)
TV-Movie
Article 2577 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-25-2008
Posting Date: 9-2-2008
Directed by Jerry London
Featuring Clint Walker, Carl Betz, Neville Brand
Country: USA

A construction crew on a small island off the coast of Africa runs into problems when its bulldozer is taken over by an alien force and begins killing the workers.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there’s something innately silly about mechanical vehicles being taken over by alien forces and wreaking havoc; I can’t read Stephen King’s short story “The Mangler” without giggling for that very reason. Also, despite the fact that Theodore Sturgeon wrote the screenplay from his own story, there are still a lot of cliches at work here, the character development is less than impressive, and there are a number of times in the story where characters behave with incredible stupidity. Still, I find it hard to dislike this movie, which, in its way, gives us a fair share of good old monster fun. They do manage to make the bulldozer seem alive on occasion, not so much when it uses the headlights as eyes, but moreso when the bulldozer tilts its blade back and forth at an angle. It’s also got one great laugh line which I won’t give away except to say that it involves the word “warranty”, and it has one indelible moment (that has stuck in my head after having seen portions of it many years ago) when the bulldozer slowly lifts and drops its blade while a man stands with his back to it. And, as silly as the title is, it’s got a lot of fun value you don’t often find with TV-Movies. Besides, I always like to see Neville Brand’s craggy face.

 

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The Killers Are Challenged (1966)

THE KILLERS ARE CHALLENGED (1966)
aka A 077, sfida ai killers
Article 2543 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-22-2008
Posting Date: 7-29-2008
Directed by Antonio Margheritti
Featuring Richard Harrison, Susy Andersen, Wandisa Guida
Country: Italy/France

A group of noted scientists are working on a new source of energy that will make petroleum obsolete. However, someone is killing them off one by one. CIA agent Bob Fleming assumes the identity of the only living scientist in an attempt to protect him, and to track down the murderers.

We’re taking a little break from our Melies-a-thon for an Italian James Bond ripoff, and, fortunately, it’s one of the more entertaining ones. The plot is relatively easy to follow in this one and the basic setup is rather interesting. There’s an assortment of odd characters; my favorite is a cab driver who used to work for Scotland Yard and drives a vehicle full of protective devices. The fantastic content is mostly of the Gizmo Maguffin variety, with the new source of energy the prize in this one, though a gadget ring that can test drinks for poison is also fun. The best scene is a barroom brawl involving (among others) the secret agent, his mysterious female helper, several drunken sailors, a big guy with a stool stuck on his head, and a feisty dwarf; guess which one is left explaining the brawl to the police when they arrive.

 

Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill (1966)

KISS KISS, KILL KILL (1966)
aka Kommissar X – Jagd auf Unbekannt
Article 2512 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-19-2008
Posting Date: 6-28-2008
Directed by Gianfranco Parolini
Featuring Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Maria Perschy
Country: West Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia

Jo Walker and Captain Tom Rowland investigate a series of deaths that were part of a business deal; apparently, one of the four partners in the deal wants the money all to himself. They discover that the murderer is planning on gathering the largest amount of gold in the world.

This is another of the European James Bond rip-offs that were common during the late sixties, and, for my money, it’s one of the better ones. In fact, it was popular enough that it spawned a series of its own; there were at least six “Kommissar X” sequels with Brad Kendall in the role. It has a good sense of humor to add to the proceedings, and I really like the relationship between Jo Walker and his boss (played by Brad Harris, who popped up in a few sword-and-sandal movies as well as the 1959 LI’L ABNER). The movie also has a good villain in the character of an industrialist who manages to keep one step ahead of Jo Walker for most of the movie. No, those expecting Bond-type thrills will be a little disappointed, but those with a tolerance for these low-budget rip-offs will find this one quite entertaining.

 

King of the Congo (1952)

KING OF THE CONGO (1952)
Serial
Article 2505 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-12-2008
Posting Date: 6-21-2008
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Wallace Grissell
Featuring Buster Crabbe, Gloria Dea, Leonard Penn
Country: USA

An Air Force captain goes undercover in Africa to discover why communist agents are at work there. He gains the name “Thunda” from a tribe of cave people when he rings a gong. He discovers the communists are after a radioactive element more powerful than uranium.

Quite frankly, I felt sorry for whichever serial I’d watch next after having viewed the excellent DRUMS OF FU MANCHU; I knew it would look limp and uninteresting next to that one. For the first several episodes of this serial, it did live down to my expectations; the plot and conflicts seemed confusing and ill-defined, and, despite the fact that our main character is supposedly the hero of the cave people, they actively put him in peril. However, it improves once Thunda stops pretending to be on the side of the communists, and though it’s hardly a great serial, this one from Columbia is stronger than the ones from Republic in the early fifties. The radioactive element is a Gizmo Maguffin, and the rest of the fantastic content are of the typical jungle sort; scary animals, a gorilla on the loose, the marginal fantasy view of Africa. You do have to admire the good shape 45-year old Buster Crabbe was in, since he spends most of the movie in a loincloth.

 

King Arthur, the Young Warlord (1975)

KING ARTHUR, THE YOUNG WARLORD (1975)
Article 2479 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-17-2008
Posting Date: 5-26-2008
Directed by Sidney Hayers, Pat Jackson, Peter Sasdy
Featuring Oliver Tobias, John Watson, Michael Gothard
Country: UK

The adventures of a young Arthur, before he became king, are recounted.

My source for this one claimed it was a British TV Movie. Maybe so, but on viewing, I began to detect that unmistakable odor of episodes of a TV series edited together to form a movie. You know the sense; that feeling that you’re watching a series of disconnected stories without any real overriding arc. And, sure enough, that’s just what this is; it was edited from several episodes of a series called “Arthur and the Britons”. It doesn’t appear to be a bad series; the whole thing kept me well entertained, and the performances are all very good, with Jack Watson (as Arthur’s iron-armed sidekick Llud) and Brian Blessed (as rival warlord Mark of Cornwall) particularly memorable; the latter (who, to my mind, is notoriously given to overacting) is only over-the-top during the opening story. Then there’s the issue of the fantastic content to deal with. The basic legend of King Arthur has ample fantastic content, what with the Excalibur story and Merlin the magician coming to mind. However, the only character from Arthurian legends here is Arthur himself, and everything is done in a realistic mode; in other words, no magic or other fantastic elements. If the whole King Arthur story qualifies, this movie might qualify as borderline fantasy; as it is, it’s more historical fiction. Still, I much prefer the look and feel of this take on the character than I do in either KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE or THE SWORD IN THE STONE.

 

Kismet (1944)

KISMET (1944)
Article 2473 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-9-2008
Posting Date: 5-20-2008
Directed by William Dieterle
Featuring Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, James Craig
Country: USA

A self-proclaimed King of the Beggars decides to make his daughter the queen of Baghdad; towards that end, he masquerades as the prince of a distant land and befriends the Grand Vizier, whom he believes will assassinate the current Caliph and take his place. Unbeknownst to him, however, his daughter has been secretly meeting the man she loves – the Caliph disguised as the son of the royal gardener. Complications ensue.

This Arabian Nights epic was filmed seven times over the years; this was the fifth one. It’s based on a play by Edward Knoblock, and I would describe the story as similar to that of the one of Aladdin, only redone and somewhat inverted. It also lacks the fantastic content of the Aladdin story; without a genie in the story, the only real fantastic content is the beggar’s magic tricks. I’ve always liked William Dieterle as a director, and he does a fine job here. I also like Ronald Colman as Hafiz the beggar; he had a way of delivering the stylized dialogue that made it sound perfectly natural. I also really like Edward Arnold as the Grand Vizier; he always made such great villains. However, I’m not all that taken with Marlene Dietrich here; to me, she’s one of those actresses that simply doesn’t belong in an Arabian Nights movie, and I find her presence somewhat jarring, and I was less than enthralled by her exotic dance (in which she had her legs painted gold). Hugh Herbert plays his usual character, and is used sparingly (a wise decision). Though this movie was given an opulent production, it’s still fairly lightweight fare, and it isn’t particularly memorable.

 

King of the Mounties (1942)

KING OF THE MOUNTIES (1942)
Serial
Article 2446 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-13-2007
Posting Date: 4-23-2008
Directed by William Witney
Featuring Allan Lane, Gilbert Emery, Russell Hicks
Sergeant King of the mounties must do battle with axis forces in Canada who are trying to soften up North America for an upcoming invasion. Towards that end, the axis powers have come up with a super airplane that cannot be detected by radar.

It’s easy to confuse this one with KING OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED , partially because of the extreme similarity of the titles, and partially because this one borrows a hefty amount of footage from that one. Still, this one wasn’t immune from having footage stolen from it as well; FLYING DISC MEN OF MARS borrowed its share of footage from this one. This is in actuality a sequel to KING OF THE ROYAL MOUNTED, and it seems decent enough; on the plus side, the fights wreck a decent amount of furniture in the great Republic style, and, on the minus side, it uses horses less so we get a greater share of bail-out cliffhanger resolutions. Still, I wouldn’t recommend this one to any but the hardiest and most dedicated of serial fans. This is because the serial is in pretty bizarre shape; about two-thirds of the soundtrack is missing, and one episode (number two) has the complete soundtrack, but no visuals. Most of the other episodes are completely silent, except for some poorly grafted music and sound effects culled from another part of the serial; whenever you hear gunshots but don’t see anyone shooting, you’ll know you’ve hit one of these stretches. Sure, following it is a bit of a mess, but I’m not sure it really matters with a serial as much; it’s certainly easier to piece together than UNA AVENTURA EN LA NOCHE .