Kyberneticka babicka (1962)

Kyberneticka babicka (1962)
Article 5902 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-13-2020
Directed by Jiri Trnka
Voice cast unknown
Country: Czechoslovakia
What it is: Frightening and sad vision of the future

A young girl is taken from her loving grandmother’s side to be raised by a robot in a futuristic household.

Here’s another fascinating puppet animation work from Jiri Trnka. There are no English subtitles, but the first half of the film is mostly without dialogue, and the animation makes it clear how the non-speaking young girl feels about her situation, which is the important thing here. Though the puppet’s faces don’t really express emotion, their body language, their actions, and the way they are framed tells us what we need to know. It’s an evocative and moving short about losing touch with our humanity; we feel strongly about how the little girl has her few possessions (a red ball and photographs of her past life) stripped from her. Here’s another one I highly recommend.

Ko-Ko the Kop (1927)

Ko-Ko the Kop (1927)
Article 5901 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-12-2020
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Featuring Max Fleischer
Country: USA
What it is: Ko-Ko Kartoon

Ko-Ko is a kop who matches wits with an animated dog.

All the early Ko-Ko cartoons had him interacting with his live-action creator, so the shorts always had this slightly surreal air about them. This one actually does less along those lines, but an extended chase scene between the kop and the dog takes the reality-bending to Tex Avery extremes, where the external realities are often revealed to be facades that could be shifted, moved aside, and replaced by other ones. As a result, this is one of the most entertaining entries in the series. This one is recommended.

King Tut’s Tomb (1950)

King Tut’s Tomb (1950)
Article 5900 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-11-2020
Directed by Mannie Davis
Featuring the voices of Dayton Allen and Ned Sparks
Country: USA
What it is: Heckle and Jeckle cartoon

Despite the fact that it’s strictly forbidden, Heckle and Jeckle decide to dig up King Tut’s tomb… but they have to face the consequences.

I’ve not seen fit to review any Heckle and Jeckle cartoons yet as most of what I’ve encountered from them is lacking any notable fantastic content. This one is a major exception; between the magpies’ flying carpet (which, being magpies, they don’t need), a sphinx that comes to life, ghosts, mummies, skeletons, and the Frankenstein monster (don’t ask me what he’s doing there). There’s also a swarm of flying termites which not only eat wood, but anything else as well. This one is actually fitfully amusing; it’s not a classic, but it’s one of the better ones from Terrytoons.

The King’s Daughter (1934)

The King’s Daughter (1934)
Article 5899
Date: 12-11-2020
Directed by Frank Moser and Paul Terry
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Damsel in operatic distress

A knight in the king’s service sets out to rescue the princess from the clutches of a dragon and a giant, and then they can all sing.

My first thought upon watching this one is that maybe it isn’t surprising the Mighty Mouse cartoons went operatic; it seems as if Paul Terry had a yen for the form long before that. My second thought was that if you take this cartoon in reference to the time it was made, most of the other cartoon companies were also emphasizing music in their output, but whereas most of them were were working in pop/jazz/swing modes, Terrytoons was doing operettas. And, you know, I can admire this; he was marching to the beat of his own drummer, and even if there is an air of crankiness about it, it avoids being trendy. At any rate, I feel the need to give Paul Terry his due; he’d been making cartoons for longer than Disney or any of his competitors by this point, and he deserves to be recognized as a true pioneer in the industry. And if many of those cartoons seem subpar, so be it. As for this one, as corny as it is, I think both the dragon and the giant look pretty good to these eyes.

King Midas, Junior (1942)

King Midas, Junior (1942)
Article 5898 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-8-2020
Directed by John Hubley and Paul Sommer
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Columbia Color Rhapsody

King Midas the 13th has come of age, and is supposed to get the golden touch. However, the sprites that deliver it mistakenly give him the rubber touch instead. Hilarity ensues.

Considering how King Midas ended up, I’m a little surprised that this line would continue for thirteen generations, especially as each of his ancestors inherited the same touch. Still, it should be said that the rubber touch has the same drawbacks as the golden touch had, only far less glamorous and far more surreal. Those who’ve taken note of the year this was made and keep in mind some facts about rubber in that time may catch the twist ending before it happens. The cartoon works well enough; it gets about as much mileage out of the idea as it can. The three sprites may not look the parts, but I suspect they were modeled off the Three Stooges. A moderately entertaining cartoon.

Kilink in Istanbul (1967)

Kilink in Istanbul (1967)
aka Kilink Istanbul’da
Article 5897 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-5-2020
Directed by Yilmaz Atadeniz
Featuring Irfan Atasoy, Pervin Par, Muzaffer Tema
Country: Turkey
What it is: supervillain/superhero antics

When his father is killed by the notorious villain Kilink, a man is visited by a mystical being and given superhuman powers he can use to take vengeance.

I don’t mind the opening titles sequence being abrupt and incoherent; they are just the opening titles. But when the opening scenes of the movie itself are abrupt and incoherent, either your copy of the movie is not in the best of shape or editing is still a somewhat primitive art in the region from which the movie harkens. Still, this movie is a sight to behold; the story borrows from Italian anti-hero/supervillain movies (Kilink is assuredly not the hero) crossed with American superhero culture; our hero can gain superpowers in the same way Captain Marvel does, and his outfit looks like a cross between the ones of Superman and Batman. But in style, the movie feels like a cross between silent movies, feature versions of serials, and Mexican wrestling movies. Our superhero is called Superhero, but that may be a choice on the part of those who did the subtitles; I hear a more direct translation is “Superman”. But all in all it’s pretty much a series of fight scenes, kidnappings, tortures, superhero scenes, all feeling like it was cut to ribbons in the editing room. And if the ending seems strange for this sort of thing, it’s best to remember that the title is KILINK IN ISTANBUL and not SUPERHERO IN ISTANBUL; that should clue you in on who the main character is. It’s a mess, but in its own way, delightful.

Konyok-gorbunok (1941)

Konyok-gorbunok (1941)
aka Humpbacked Horse
Article 5876 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-30-2020
Directed by Aleksandr Rou
Featuring Pyotr Aleynikov, Marina Kovalyova, Georgiy Millyar
Country: Soviet Union
What it is: Russian fantasy

A peasant boy who cares for a magical horse is given impossible tasks by a tsar.

There’s plenty of fantastic content in this Russian fantasy; I wish I could say more about the story, though, but since my copy of the movie was in unsubtitled Russian, I had only visuals to go on. The visuals are very striking, particularly in scenes where the peasant boy has to meet up with a variety of giant characters in any number of strange environments. But many of the plot elements are buried in the dialogue, so I only have a vague notion of what’s going on. I’ll probably find out eventually; there are other versions of this story out there. As it is, there’s quite a bit of fantasy eye-candy in this one, and it looks like it could be a bit of fun, though some of the acting comes across as very stagebound.

Killer Fish (1979)

KILLER FISH (1979)
Article 5406 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-27-2017
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
Featuring Lee Majors, Karen Black, Margaux Hemingway
Country: Italy / UK / Brazil /USA
What it is: IMDB says Horror, but…

A gang of jewel thieves in Brazil hides a box of stolen jewels in a lake and plans to wait sixty days before returning to recover the treasure. However, one member of the gang tries to make sure his partners don’t cheat on him by releasing piranha in the lake.

Someday I’ll come up with a category for movies that purport to be one type of movie but are actually another. The title of this one evokes memories of both JAWS and PIRANHA, and this movie would most likely not have been made if not for the success of these other movies. However, the killer fish aspect of the story is not the main plot, which is mostly concerned about the betrayals and double-crosses of a gang of jewel thieves. Even beyond that, the movie is more noteworthy for its spectacle and scenes of destruction (I wonder if Margheriti really had a hankering to make a disaster movie) than of its horror content. I don’t think the movie is badly done; its low rating on IMDB probably has more to do with the fact that it isn’t really the horror movie it seems to promise. Despite the presence of Italian director Margheriti, there’s no dubbing issue here; the movie was mostly shot in English, and there’s a lot of well-known English-speaking actors in the cast. Go in expecting a crime movie with some horror elements, and you’ll appreciate this one more.

Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: zettai zetsumei (1967)

KOKUSAI HIMITSU KEISATSU: ZETTAI ZETSUMEI (1967)
aka The Killing Bottle
Article 5402 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-23-2017
Directed by Senkichi Taniguchi
Featuring Tatsuya Mihashi, Nick Adams, Makoto Sato
Country: Japan / USA
What it is: Spy antics

Two agents of the International Secret Police must prevent a crime organization from assassinating the President of Buddabai and his General.

This movie almost ended up on my “ones that got away” list, but I found a copy just before it was about to fall into it. From what I gather, it was the fifth in a series of movies about the International Secret Police; I believe one of the movies in the series provided the footage for Woody Allen’s WHAT’S UP, TIGER LILY? This was the third movie Nick Adams made in Japan during the sixties, and is the most obscure of the three. The fantastic content consists of the title method of assassination, a bottle of killer foam that expands and suffocates anyone in an enclosed space, though I think there might be a robot/cyborg involved in the mix as well. From the music and other clues, it appears to be comic in tone. I can’t say a whole lot about it because my copy is in Japanese without English subtitles, but it has a few interesting scenes, such as the one where a woman fends off attackers by using long-playing records as missile weapons. I did make one other observation; after all the jokes I’ve heard over the years over how badly Japanese movies were dubbed into English, it appears the reverse was true as well – the Japanese dubbing of Nick Adams doesn’t always follow the movement of his mouth, and there is a noticeable shift in background noise in some scenes when one person stops talking and another begins.

Koneko no rakugaki (1957)

KONEKO NO RAKUGAKI (1957)
aka The Scribbling Cat
Article 5350 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-20-2017
Directed by Taiji Yabushita
No cast
Country: Japan
What it is: Whimsical animated short

A cat’s scribblings on a big white wall come to life. However, when two mice steal his pencil, the cat must chase them in his drawn universe.

One advantage of making a short without any dialogue is that it can be readily appreciated by people who speak other languages without dubbing or subtitles. This utterly charming short is an example of such a film; it tells its fun and whimsical story with a great deal of imagination. It’s one of those concepts that requires animation to work. I’ve encountered Yabushita at least one before; he also gave us PANDA AND THE MAGIC SERPENT as well as ALAKAZAM THE GREAT. All in all, this is another fun foray into the world of Japanese animation.