Kill and Kill Again (1981)

Article 4599 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-5-2014
Directed by Ivan Hall
Featuring James Ryan, Anneline Kriel, Michael Mayer
Country: South Africa / USA
What it is: Martial arts comic action movie

A scientist who has invented a mind-control drug is kidnapped by a super-criminal who plans to use it to take over the world A martial arts expert is hired to rescue him, and he assembles a band of friends to help him on his mission.

I don’t take this movie very seriously, but then, neither did the ones who made it. It’s something of a cross between THE SEVEN SAMURAI and ENTER THE DRAGON done in a comic mode, but I suspect it would have been a little funnier if it had taken itself seriously. The mind-control serum is more than just a maguffin here; the villain (who wears one of the worst fake beards in motion picture history) uses it to control his minions; furthermore, some of the martial artists have mystical abilities that allow them to levitate, though this doesn’t really come into play during the action sequences. James Ryan was a South African action star, and though he’s certainly no Bruce Lee, he does all right. Overall, the movie is entertaining in that “turn off your mind and let it wash over you” way, but it’s certainly no classic.

Krazy Magic (1938)

aka Krazy’s Magic
Article 4584 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-20-2014
Directed by Manny Gould and Ben Harrison
Featuring the voice of Mel Blanc
Country: USA
What it is: Krazy Kat cartoon

Krazy Kat and his girl Kitty take refuge from a storm in a creepy house where they are subjected to tricks by an invisible magician.

The original Krazy Kat was the central character of one of the most significant comic strips of the first half of the last century, but in the Columbia cartoons based on the character, he is little more than a Mickey Mouse clone. Furthermore, Columbia was a little slower than some of the other studios at making its cartoon input more sophisticated, so this one feels like one from the first half of the thirties rather than the later half. It’s mostly just a set of surreal gags that aren’t particularly funny or focused; the same setup has been used more effectively by other cartoons. Still, if you’ve developed a tolerance for cartoons of this ilk, it’s watchable enough.

Kung Fu from Beyond the Grave (1982)

aka Yin Ji
Article 4459 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-24-2014
Directed by Chiu Lee
Featuring Billy Chong, Lieh Lo, Chin-Lai Sung
Country: Hong Kong
What it is: Martial arts of the macabre

A Kung Fu expert is called on by the ghost of his father to find his bones and take revenge on the man who killed him. However, the target for his revenge has the help of black magic on his side.

I’ve covered a lot of movies with outrageous titles over the years, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that if the movie comes from the supernatural side of martial arts movies, they’re going to be even more outrageous and wilder than the title. The weirdness never lets up in this one, what with the ghosts, zombies, vampires (Dracula himself!) and black magicians all engaging in martial arts mayhem, which consists of (as usual) a frenetic combination of gymnastics, dance choreography and sound-enhanced gesturing. I suppose I could complain about the lack of coherence, but then, I never really expected it going in. As usual, all I can do is sit there and try to take it all in, and though I’m sometimes not sure whether I’m being entertained or just being overwhelmed, at least I’m not bored, and there’s plenty of laughs along the way. Still, I’m glad that these types of movies only come along sporadically in the series; things would get very tiresome if I watched too many of them at once.

Keep My Grave Open (1976)

Article 4458 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-22-2014
Directed by S.F. Brownrigg
Featuring Camilla Carr, Gene Ross, Stephen Tobolowsky
Country: USA
What it is: Mad psycho thriller

A woman lives on an isolated farm with Kevin, who may be her brother and/or lover, and who may also be responsible for the deaths by sword of trespassers on the property.

I’ve seen only a handful of S.F. Brownrigg’s low-budget movies, but then, he only directed a handful. He’s definitely one of the more interesting directors I’ve encountered who works on such a low budget, largely because he manages to throw in unexpected twists and odd touches that are rather intriguing. It’s anchored by a strong performance from Camilla Carr as the disturbed woman who obsesses about her brother, and much of the mystery and suspense in this one hinges on the nature of Kevin; it’s not so much a matter of who he is, but it is a matter of whether he is actually present. Parts of the movie are quite predictable, but not entirely, and I found the ending very intriguing indeed. It is as much a character piece as a horror thriller, though, and there’s a chance that some people might find this one a little dull; nevertheless, I liked it. The movie also features Larry Buchanan regular Bill Thurman as a hitchhiker.

Kisses for My President (1964)

Article 4377 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-25-2013
Directed by Curtis Bernhardt
Featuring Fred MacMurray, Polly Bergen, Eli Wallach
Country: USA
What it is: Comedy

When a woman is elected President of the United States, her husband has trouble adjusting to the role of First Lady.

The fantastic content is obvious here; the movie hinges on the fact that a woman is elected to the office of President of the U.S., and though some might disagree, there are those that would say that it puts it in the realm of social science fiction. However, as such, it is a disappointment that the movie does not seriously address the repercussions of such an event; it may hint at on occasion, but it’s far more interested in the discomfiture felt by the husband at having to take on the role of “first lady”. And, truth to tell, sometimes it’s not even very interested in that, as some of the humorous situations seem to have little to do with that subject matter. There is the wisp of a plot involving a corrupt South American country and an antagonistic senator, but most of the movie feels rather formless. Fred MacMurray is trying his best here, but the long-winded and often contrived script doesn’t give him much help. There are a handful of funny moments; my favorites include the daughter’s boyfriend picking her up at the White House, and the scene where everybody tries to help MacMurray deal with his jitters over appearing in front of a camera and end up leaving him intoxicated. My favorite surprise in the movie was when I recognized that a Russian ambassador was being played by an uncredited John Banner (Sgt. Schultz on “Hogan’s Heroes”). The ending scene especially feels convenient and forced. Though I wouldn’t say the movie is bad, I do feel it is a disappointment and a missed opportunity.

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

Article 4334 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-12-2013
Directed by John ‘Bud’ Cardos
Featuring William Shatner, Tiffany Bolling, Woody Strode
Country: USA
What it is: Nature run amok

A small Arizona town finds itself threatened by an invasion of deadly tarantulas who have organized themselves into an army.

“Nature Run Amok” stories were a pretty standard subgenre of the seventies, and if you’re familiar with the form, then, in terms of the plot, there’s not much in the way of surprises in this particular example of it. And, when you get down to it, I really wasn’t expecting any. Still, that’s not to say that the movie doesn’t have its small pleasures. For one thing, I like the authentic-feeling Arizona small town atmosphere that pervades the movie. I like the moment when the female lead first encounters a tarantula in a drawer in her cabin; rather than screaming (as the cliche would be), she picks it up, talks to it, pets it, and then takes it outside and sets it free, which, given that she’s an entomologist, makes a lot more sense. I like that the pest exterminator draws pictures of his victims on the side of his airplane. And I also like how the woman who rents out the cabin goes through a period of grieving when she believes the man that she loves has died; many movies of this sort don’t take the time to realize that grief comes with death, and it’s nice to see it on display. It’s also well acted throughout, and the movie certainly doesn’t cut corners in creating a believable spider infestation. So even if the story itself is pretty ordinary, it’s well enacted, and that’s always a plus.

Ko-Ko’s Hypnotism (1929)

Article 4267 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-17-2013
Directed by Dave Fleischer
Cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Silent Ko-Ko cartoon

When Ko-Ko’s animator takes up hypnotism (with the help of inserted hypnotic eyes), the clown humiliates himself by doing his animator’s bidding. Seeking revenge, Ko-Ko consults with a witch in order to learn hypnotism himself.

When you consider that an animator has control over what his creations do in the first place, you’d think he wouldn’t have to stoop to hypnotism, but we’re in the land of cartoon logic here, and those rules don’t apply. That being said, this is one of the more amusing Ko-Ko the clown cartoons I’ve seen, with the animator (I’m assuming it’s one of the Fleischer brothers) having a lot of fun in the process. For a few moments, I found myself wondering if the cartoon was actually made partially with sound; some of the music and sound effects seems particularly apt on the copy I saw on YouTube. It threatens to get a little gruesome at one point where Ko-Ko, thinking that his dog Fitz is a nut, is about to crack him open with a nutcracker, but things stop just in time.

Kiss Me! (1904)

KISS ME! (1904)
Article 4266 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-16-2013
Director unknown
Cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Comic short

A passing man finds himself tempted by a woman in a theatrical poster who is winking at him and inviting him to kiss her.

There’s a full plot description of this one on IMDB, and if you see the same copy of this that I did (I found it on YouTube), you’re going to need it. The problem is that the impact of the short relies on our being able to see the woman in the poster winking and offering herself for a kiss, but the print is so ragged that it’s impossible to tell if she’s moving at all, and if you can’t see her moving, then the short will make very little sense. Still, even if you could see it, it really wouldn’t make the comic content here a lot greater, and if you’re curious about the special effects, there are none; what is supposed to be the poster of the woman is obviously a woman standing in front of a black background, and the whole thing is probably shot in one take. Because it involves a poster coming to life, it qualifies as fantasy, but in its present shape, it’s hardly worth checking out.

Kaidan Saga Yashiki (1953)

aka Ghost of Saga Mansion
Article 4236 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-26-2013
Directed by Ryohei Arai
Featuring Takako Irie, Yoshitaro Bando, Kikue Mouri
Country: Japan
What it is: The Ghost Cat Begins

When her son is killed as part of a conspiracy, and old woman commits suicide, giving rise to a vengeful ghost-cat.

So many ghost-cat movies were made in Japan during the fifties that there must be a reason for its popularity. I think one of the reasons may be this particular movie; it was (if I have my information correct) the first of the ghost-cat movies, and based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s easily the best. Given that my copy is once again in Japanese without subtitles, I do have problems following the story line, but once the story progresses far enough so that we can get some vengeful ghost-cat action, the movie takes off; it is genuinely eerie. The movie does a better job of incorporating the cat-like nature of the ghost into the proceedings, there are some creepy transformation sequences, and the scene here where the ghost-cat forces one of its victims to undergo a series of tumbling exercises (which usually comes off as strange but silly) is quite unsettling; I could see this time that we were dealing with tendency of a cat to play with its victims. I’ve begun to realize now how the other movies I’ve seen are essentially retreads of this one, lacking the atmosphere that makes this one work. It’s always nice to see a movie that helps you to put others you’ve seen into context.

Kaliya Mardan (1919)

aka Kalia Mardan
Article 4231 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-17-2013
Directed by Dhundiraj Govind Phalke
Featuring Neelkanth, Mandakini Phalke
Country: India
What it is: Hindu mythology

The childhood of the Hindu deity Shree Krishna is portrayed.

Shree Krishna is one of the avatars of Vishnu, and is often portrayed as a flute-playing child and a prankster. For most of this movie, that would have been the sole fantastic content I would have found, but near the end, Krishna does battle with a giant underwater snake, and that serves as definite fantastic content for one who has no idea who Shree Krishna is. Granted, I don’t have the background to fully appreciate all of this episodic movie, but I will make certain observations. One is that much of the movie’s appeal is due to the performance of Mandakini Phalke (the director’s eight-year-old daughter) as Shree Krishna; she is so expressive and energetic she is fun to watch. I was also curious to see how a Indian cinema (which is replete with music and dancing) would fare in the pre-sound era. Well, it may be a silent movie, but I suspect if any culture would definitely have had music playing during their silent movies, it would be Indian culture. And the movie is filled with opportunities to do so, as we have Krishna playing the flute during one scene, as well as quite a bit of dancing. Even when the dancing is not explicit, much of the movement has a certain rhythmic, musical quality. Again, cultural differences hamper my ability to fully appreciate the movie, but I do think this makes for interesting viewing.