Kiss Me, Monster (1969)

KISS ME, MONSTER (1969)
aka Kuss mich, Monster
Article 2366 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-17-2007
Posting Date: 2-3-2008
Directed by Jesus Franco
Featuring Janice Reynaud, Rosanna Yanni, Adrian Hoven

Two girl detectives embark on a mission to find the secret formula of a doctor that can be used to create life.

I don’t think I’ve run into any comedies so far in my inadvertent exploration of the oeuvre of Jess Franco, but that’s what this movie appears to be. I also don’t think I can make any judgment on how effective Franco is at handling comedy; the print I have of this movie suffers from horrendous dubbing compounded by what appears to be a perfectly awful translation; every line sounds forced, awkward and unnatural, and the overall feel I had from watching this movie was that of having to follow a string of rather dull non sequiturs. Still, the odd joke comes through, and I do like the clever bit in which a windmill is used like a combination lock. Outside of that, the movie largely seems to demonstrate to me that Franco and I are on thoroughly different wavelengths as to what movies should be like, but I’ve suspected that for some time.

 

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Knights of the Round Table (1953)

KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE (1953)
Article 2258 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-22-2007
Posting Date: 10-18-2007
Directed by Richard Thorpe
Featuring Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer

King Arthur tries to unite his country with the help of the Knights of the Round Table, but the evil Sir Mordred tries to thwart him by using Sir Lancelot’s love for the queen against him.

Maybe if I hadn’t already seen MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (which pokes hilarious fun at the whole King Arthur story) and EXCALIBUR (which handles the same story with real gusto), I might have liked this one better. Yes, it’s got color and spectacle, and if that’s all that’s important to you, go for it. Unfortunately, all too often people open their mouths and speak the words, and the artificial, mannered and sadly unlyrical dialogue saps a great deal of vitality from the movie; the characters and relationships never really come to life. As a result, stretches of this movie are as dull as they come, and the almost total lack of a sense of humor (except for a truly strange pillow-fight-on-horseback) just makes it drag all the more. It picks up a little towards the end, but it’s a fairly long stretch before that. This is definitely not my favorite take on the legend.

 

King Kong Escapes (1967)

KING KONG ESCAPES (1967)
Article 2193 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-18-2007
Posting Date: 8-14-2007
Directed by Ishiro Honda
Featuring Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller

A nefarious organization is trying to mine a rare radioactive mineral. Towards that end, the head of the organization has a mechanical replica of King Kong built, but the radiation proves too much for it. When members of a submarine crew discover the existence of the real King Kong, the evil organization plans to kidnap both Kong and his discoverers.

Back when I was a kid, I thought this was the worst of the kaijus largely due to the fact that I find one of the central premises (that the best way to mine radioactive minerals is with giant gorillas, and if you don’t have one of those, the second best way is to build a mechanical replica of a giant gorilla) to plum the depths of absurdity. I still find it ridiculous, but I can get past that nowadays; it’s not a bad kaiju, the evil Doctor Who (nothing to do with the British timelord, but dubbed by Paul Frees) is one of the most memorable villains for one of these movies, and the final battle (with both Kong and mechani-Kong climbing Tokyo Tower) is pretty good. I also think that the Kong outfit here is a definite improvement over the one used in KING KONG VS. GODZILLA . The movie also has an interesting genesis; it was based on a forgotten American cartoon, and was co-produced by Arthur Rankin Jr., part of the production team of Rankin/Bass. Two of the main characters are played by Americans, though, for some reason, Linda Milller was dubbed rather poorly by another actress. As a side note, this is the second movie in a row I’ve seen to feature a boat wrecked by a giant monster.

 

Killer With Two Faces (1975)

KILLER WITH TWO FACES (1975)
Article 2000 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-5-2006
Posting Date: 2-2-2007
Directed by John Scholz-Conway
Featuring Donna Mills, Ian Hendry, David Lodge

A homicidal maniac with a fetish about physical perfection breaks free from an asylum and starts a killing spree. He takes on the identity of his twin brother, who is a noted architect, and hooks up with a woman who wants some changes made to her house. The brother tries to help the police catch the maniac.

As far as I can tell, there was either a British TV series or series of movies called “Thriller” in the mid-seventies that produced a series of 75-minute movies for broadcast. Both this and KISS ME AND DIE appear to have been from this series, and based on these two example, I’m afraid I can only conclude that the thrills were pretty tepid. The acting was all right, and the scripts weren’t too bad, but the turgid pace and the lifeless direction really dragged this one down. Quite frankly, this would have made a nice thirty minute episode from something like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”, but at its present length, it just takes the movie forever to get to its fairly obvious plot twists. Writer Brian Clemens was responsible for most of the scripts in this series, and he was one of the writers and producers of “The Avengers”, episodes of which I would find much more enjoyable than this one was.

 

Kong Island (1968)

KONG ISLAND (1968)
aka Eve the Wild Woman, King of Kong Island, Eve the Savage Venus, Eva al Venere selvaggia
Article 1928 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-25-2006
Posting Date: 11-22-2006
Directed by Roberto Mauri
Featuring Brad Harris, Esmerelda Barros, Marc Lawrence

An ex-mercenary is hunting down a man that left him for dead after a payroll robbery. His quest takes him into the middle of a jungle, where a hunt for ‘The Sacred Monkey” leads him to an encounter with gorillas who are under the scientific control of a madman.

What a cornucopia of titles to choose from; let’s eliminate a few. Any movie with both words “King” and “Kong” in the title should make some attempt to fit a giant ape in the plot, so let’s throw out KING OF KONG ISLAND. In fact, just KONG ISLAND still promises some giant monkey action; let’s face it, you have a right to expect it from any movie that contains the word KONG without the word HONG, so out it goes. Eve is wild enough, I suppose, given that she runs around the jungle topless; not that you see anything, though, thanks to her long black hair which she wears combed down in two long strands in front. Still, she’s the least violent member of the cast, so I’m throwing out all titles that imply otherwise.

Hey, we’ve just thrown out all the titles! Let’s go whole hog and throw out the movie as well. This astonishingly bad compendium of evil experiments on men-in-gorilla-suits, love triangles, vengeance quests, betrayals and Double-Stuffed Safari-O simply wanders all over the place without rhyme or reason for the most part. The music is probably the worst; it’s mostly vaguely exotic easy-listening music, and it’s repetitive as well. It’s a mean, ugly and dull movie that just isn’t much fun. I’m glad this one is out of the way.

 

A Knife for the Ladies (1974)

A KNIFE FOR THE LADIES (1974)
(a.k.a. SILENT SENTENCE)
Article #1608 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-9-2005
Posting Date: 1-6-2006
Directed by Larry G. Spangler
Featuring Jack Elam, Ruth Roman, Jeff Cooper

Against the wishes of the local Sheriff, a city detective is called in to a western town to investigate a series of knife murders.

I don’t know if it ever actually went under this title, but one of the alternate titles listed for this one at IMDB is JACK THE RIPPER GOES WEST, and that gives you a clue to what this movie is like. One thing IMDB fails to include is a running length for the movie, and this I would like to know, since my print runs about one hour and looks as if it were edited somewhat; I’d just like to know how much is missing. It’s an odd one, all right; it’s part horror movie (especially the ending), part western, and part detective/cop story. It seems to have a pretty low reputation based on its rating on IMDB, but though I certainly don’t consider it a great movie, I found myself enjoying it well enough. For one thing, it’s certainly unpredictable, though it does have the problem that there aren’t many suspects to choose from after a bit because they keep dying off. Besides, there’s something I’ve always found likable about Jack Elam’s ugly mug wherever it appears, and he adds a good deal of fun to the movie. In this state, it’s rushed, but doesn’t wear out its welcome.

Kiss Me Quick! (1964)

KISS ME QUICK! (1964)
Article #1554 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-16-2005
Posting Date: 11-13-2005
Directed by Peter Perry
Featuring Frank A. Coe, Max Gardens, Althea Currier

An emissary named Sterilox from the Buttless Galaxy arrives at the laboratory of Dr. Breedlove to find the perfect female specimen to take back with him.

Yes, it’s another nudie. It’s filled with repetitive scenes of women undressing or lolling around in states of undress, and it also features bad jokes and double entendres. The odd thing is that the bad jokes and double entendres are actually pretty good this time around, and the movie is stuffed so full of them that it manages to hold the interest. There’s also a Frankenstein monster, a vampire and a mummy in the mix (plus a reference to a wolfman as well). The character of Sterilox is played as a movie-long imitation of Stan Laurel, while Dr. Breedlove is performed vocally as an imitation of Bela Lugosi with a Peter Lorre laugh. A talking skull is given the voice of Peter Lorre himself. If more nudies were this amusing, they might actually be worth watching.