The Magic Fountain (1961)

THE MAGIC FOUNTAIN (1961)
Article 2363 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-14-2007
Posting Date: 1-31-2008
Directed by Allan David
Featuring Peter Nestler, Helmo Kindermann, Joseph Marz

Three brothers set out on a quest to find a magic fountain whose water can heal their ailing father, the king. Two of the brothers are selfish and evil, and when the good brother manages to find the fountain, they plot to frame him, and take the water from the magic fountain for themselves.

This fairy tale is based on a story from the Brothers Grimm. IMDB claims that the movie is from the United States, but despite the narration by Cedric Hardwicke and voices by Hans Conried (as an owl) and Buddy Baer, this looks like a dubbed foreign movie. It’s probably German, as it was filmed in the Black Forest of Germany. It has its charms; the story makes for a decent fairy tale, and the presence of the above listed stars adds a bit of appeal, but the movie is rather tepid and static. In particular, a fight scene where the good prince defeats the army of a tyrant is incredibly unconvincing. It helped a little that this story was unfamiliar to me, rather than a rehash of an overly familiar one. Oddly enough, one of the alternate titles of this is SANTA’S MAGIC FOUNTAIN, and though there are two major characters that have long beards (the king and the dwarf), there’s no Santa to be found; perhaps there is another version with bumpers added featuring Santa Claus telling the story, which is something I’ve seen before. At any rate, this is fairly minor children’s fantasy.

 

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Missile Monsters (1958)

MISSILE MONSTERS (1958)
Feature Version of serial FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS (1950)
Article 2362 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-13-2007
Posting Date: 1-30-2008
Directed by Fred C. Brannon
Featuring Kent Fowler, James Craven, Gregory Gaye

Martian combines forces with industrialist to take over world. Heroes try to prevent them. Fistfights.

What it is: Feature version of a serial, in this case, FLYING DISC MAN FROM MARS.

Gets a point for the fact that a copy finally manifested itself after having been on my hunt list for years.

Gets a point for keeping the running time below eighty minutes.

Loses ten points for having been edited from a fairly weak serial to begin with.

Loses ten points because it has no monsters and precious little in the way of missiles.

Loses ten points for having the Martian spend most of the movie in earthling garb.

Loses ten points for being what it is in the first place.

Gets a point for having one person credited on IMDB as “Workman Overheard Talking About Bomb in Kent’s Plane”

Loses ten points for proving that nonstop action can be as dull as dishwater.

Loses ten points out of spite.

Total: not worth the investment of your time.

Tomorrow: a movie that doesn’t consist entirely of archive footage.

 

The Monkey’s Paw (1948)

THE MONKEY’S PAW (1948)
Article 2358 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-9-2007
Posting Date: 1-26-2008
Directed by Norman Lee
Featuring Milton Rosmer, Megs Jenkins, Michael Martin Harvey

A cursed monkey’s paw comes into the possession of a shop owner. Despite warnings about the curse, he wishes upon it for the money to pay off a bookie. He gets the money, but at a price…

W. W. Jacobs’s “The Monkey’s Paw” is a classic horror short story, but it’s also fairly short, so in order to expand it to a full-length movie, you have to find some way to fill up the time. Apparently, Jacobs expanded the story himself; IMDB claims that this movie was based on a play version of the story written by Jacobs. I don’t know how much of this movie comes from the play version, but in expanding it, it does the usual things; it comes up with more backstory and fleshes out the characters. All in all, it does a good job of it as well; after a while, you get attached to the various characters in the story and you care about what happens to them. The climax of the story is suitably tense and eerie as well. Still, if you’re familiar with the story, you’ll find this one fairly slow out of the gate.

 

The Monster of London City (1964)

THE MONSTER OF LONDON CITY (1964)
aka Das Ungeheuer von London City
Article 2353 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-4-2007
Posting Date: 1-21-2008
Directed by Edwin Zbonek
Featuring Hansjorg Felmy, Marianne Koch, Dietmar Schonherr

A new Jack the Ripper is loose in London, and the prime suspect for the police is an actor who is playing the role of Jack the Ripper in a stage production.

You know, I try to cut these krimi some slack; though they are often confusing and frustrating, they also usually have some good moments in them to compensate. This one is really no different; there are some good moments here, especially towards the end of the movie. However, the confusion and repetitiveness of this one really started to wear on me; I really got tired of the tiresome police investigation (where they always take the time to tell you that this new murder is just like all the others) and the unfunny comic relief couple who set out to catch the Ripper on their own. My problem a lot of the time is the editing; scenes seem to occur in random order, and you have to keep adjusting to figure out which facet of the plot they’re currently on, only to find there’s usually not much happening in this part of the story anyway. Bad dubbing and a dull music score also don’t help. In short, the movie doesn’t generate much in the way of suspense, which is a shame; there’s enough of a story here to make for an entertaining movie if only the presentation were up to par.

 

Le miroir obscene (1973)

LE MIROIR OBSCENE (1973)
aka Obscene Mirror, Beyond the Grave, Al otro lado del espejo
Article 2321 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-3-2007
Posting Date: 12-20-2007
Directed by Jesus Franco
Featuring Emma Cohen, Howard Vernon, Philippe Lemaire

A woman is possessed by a mirror which shows her obscene images and causes her to murder the men in her life.

Yes, it’s Jess Franco again, and this time I get the opportunity to see one of his movies in unsubtitled French, a good way to guarantee that I won’t understand a word of the dialogue. Oddly enough, this problem didn’t really profoundly change the usual viewing experience I have with Franco movies. This comment cuts both ways; for one thing, I find I have some trouble paying attention to the dialogue even when I understand it in many of his movies anyway, much of which I find to be dull, though I should point out this is only a real problem with his weaker movies. On the other hand, it does show me that dialogue isn’t really what Franco is all about. It’s also helpful that once I got the gist of what was going on in the movie, it was fairly easy to follow. As a matter of fact, I think this was one of the better Franco movies I’ve seen, despite the fact that I was also hampered by having a very weak print of it to begin with; like his better movies, I don’t feel I was wasting my time watching it. I even liked the jazzy musical score up to a point, though it is overused. Granted, I’m still not a fan of Franco’s style; for my taste, I find that the sex scenes go on too long, there’s too many closeups of pubic hair, and that camera won’t stay in focus for more than a few seconds at a time. Yet, it managed to hold my attention and left me thinking about it afterwards.

 

Macumba Love (1960)

MACUMBA LOVE (1960)
Article 2288 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-30-2007
Posting Date: 11-17-2007
Directed by Douglas Fowley
Featuring Walter Reed, Ziva Rodann, William Wellman Jr.

A researcher investigates a voodoo cult, and finds himself and those around him threatened by the local voodoo priestess.

Actually, this is probably one of the better voodoo movies out there from the era, but it really wasn’t a great time for voodoo movies. On the plus side, its shock moments certainly work well enough. It also feels quite unlike the other voodoo movies I’ve seen, at least partially because it was shot in Brazil (they apparently wanted to shoot in Haiti but couldn’t due to lack of cooperation). The voodoo sequences are effective enough, and there’s some lively calypso music to enliven things, including “Dance Kalinda”, a song in which two people perform a dance together under the tails of parrots (must be a funky Brazilian version of Russian Roulette). The story is okay, but the acting is pretty uneven throughout. The worst problem I had with the movie may be a problem only with my print; though shot in Eastman color, everything has a strong yellowish tint to it which makes everything look more than a little unpleasant (especially the swimming scenes). This was the sole directorial effort of Douglas Fowley, who mostly worked as an actor.

 

The Mysterious Intruder (1946)

THE MYSTERIOUS INTRUDER (1946)
Article 2263 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-29-2007
Posting Date: 10-23-2007
Directed by William Castle
Featuring Richard Dix, Barton MacLane, Nina Vale

A private detective takes on a case to locate a woman who stands to gain a large sum of money. In the hopes of discovering the exact details of the money, the detective sends a female associate pretending to be the woman, but this ends up leading to a string of murders that places the detective under the suspicion of the police.

Though the title doesn’t reflect this, this movie was part of “The Whistler” series from Columbia, and, like most of those movies, the sole fantastic element is the presence of the Whistler himself, who serves as narrator. It’s also one of the best of the series; the plot is complex and full of surprising revelations, the story has a grim noirish feel, and our central character of focus, the detective, is a questionable person; for most of the movie, you won’t know whether his hunt for the object that will bring the money is being done to help a client, or for his own profit. This ambiguity plays a big role in making the surprisingly powerful ending work as well as it does. The movie also features some fun character actors, including Regis Toomey, Charles Lane, and the always memorable Mike Mazurki. Recommended for those who don’t mind watching a movie with only borderline fantastic elements.