The Mummy’s Shroud (1967)

THE MUMMY’S SHROUD (1967)
Article 2746 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-12-2008
Posting Date: 2-18-2009
Directed by John Gilling
Featuring Andre Morell, John Phillips, David Buck
Country: UK

Archaelogists invade the tomb of Kah-to-Bey, and find themselves subject to the vengeful wrath of his mummified guardian Prem.

When I first saw this movie about twenty years ago, I found it utterly boring and thoroughly predictable. I like it a little better on reviewing; some of the characters and performers are interesting, and the disintegration scene at the end of the movie is nicely done. Still, it doesn’t change my feeling that the movie is routine; it takes way too long to get going, and the story is standard mummy’s curse fare. Furthermore, the mummy makeup is particularly weak in this one. Perhaps more than any of the other Hammer horrors I’ve seen, this one feels churned out.

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The Mouse on the Moon (1963)

THE MOUSE ON THE MOON (1963)
Article 2745 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-11-2008
Posting Date: 2-17-2009
Directed by Richard Lester
Featuring Margaret Rutherford, Ron Moody, Bernard Cribbins
Country: UK

A miniscule country in Europe decides to get money for plumbing by asking the United States for money for rocket research, a grant that is given under the belief that this small country provides no real threat to the space race. However, when it is discovered that the local wine contains properties that make it a powerful rocket fuel, the country acquires a rocket from Russia and plans a trip to the moon.

This sequel to THE MOUSE THAT ROARED could well have been disastrous; after all, the absence of Peter Sellers from this sequel must have seemed like a real setback. At worst, though, the movie is merely uneven; the three performers who more or less replace Peter Sellers in his respective roles (Bernard Cribbins as a bumbling ne’er-do-well, Ron Moody as a wily Prime Minister, and Margaret Rutherford as the dotty queen) are all well cast, and the satirical aspects of the story (in which the governments of various concerned countries all play diplomatic games to make the best of the situation) are a lot of fun. It’s an early movie for Richard Lester, who would really come into his own with his next film, A HARD DAY’S NIGHT. The script is a little clumsy in the more overt comedy, but the movie is far from an embarrassment. My favorite laugh: a joke about the privy council.

The Misadventures of Merlin Jones (1964)

THE MISADVENTURES OF MERLIN JONES (1964)
Article 2741 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-7-2008
Posting Date: 2-13-2009
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, Leon Ames
Country: USA

The scientific experiments of a college genius get him involved with a local judge.

Well, what do you know! This shopping cart movie manages to emulate one of those manifestations in which two separate episodes of a TV series are edited together to form a bogus movie. In the first half, Merlin Jones develops the ability to read minds, and begins to suspect the judge of being a master criminal. In the second, he experiments with hypnotism and ends up using the judge as a subject in an experiment to find out whether hypnotism can really force someone to go against his own moral code. Factor in the overall sense of blandness to this one, and the fact that, unlike most of the other Disney shopping cart movies, this one does not build to anything like a rousing climax, and the sense of watching TV episodes becomes that much stronger. Yet I can find no evidence that this was from a TV-series; nevertheless, I suspect that these were originally conceived as two episodes of Disney’s long-running TV series but which somehow ended up as a feature film. Well, for whatever reason, I have to admit that this one really falls flat for me; the best part of the movie is the opening animation, but after that, the blandness drags it down. Fans of Tommy Kirk and Annette Funicello may well enjoy it, as will those with nostalgic fondness for the movie. It must have done well enough in the theaters; it inspired a sequel, THE MONKEY’S UNCLE, which also appears to tell two different stories.

The Mephisto Waltz (1970)

THE MEPHISTO WALTZ (1970)
Article 2740 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-6-2008
Posting Date: 2-12-2009
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Featuring Alan Alda, Jacqueline Bisset, Barbara Parkins
Country: USA

A one-time pianist turned journalist is invited to meet a legendary classical pianist, who takes an instant liking to him. The journalist’s wife is suspicious of the motives of the pianist and dislikes the pianist’s daughter. However, when the pianist dies and the journalist undergoes a startling change of personality, she begins to feel that something is truly wrong…

Though it may not be apparent from the plot description above, it didn’t take me long while watching it to realize that this movie is mostly a clone of ROSEMARY’S BABY with certain plot details changed. It’s eerie enough in spots and it features a fine score by Jerry Goldsmith, but it’s overlong, and for the most part it’s very predictable, especially once you recognize its similarity to the previously mentioned movie. It only really caught fire towards the end of the movie when the wife decides to fight fire with fire, and then I found myself quite engrossed in trying to figure out how she was going to get what she wanted. Alas, the ending only left me disappointed because I found it hard to believe that what she gets is really what she wanted. There was a lot of talent from TV at work on this one; director Paul Wendkos mostly worked in television, and the movie was produced by none other than Quinn Martin. On a side note, this is the second movie in a row to feature a central character dying of leukemia but somehow managing to find a way to survive.

Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)

MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1968)
Article 2739 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-5-2008
Posting Date: 2-11-2009
Directed by Gerardo de Leon and Eddie Romero
Featuring John Ashley, Angelique Pettyjohn, Ronald Remy
Country: USA / Philippines

Travelers come to an island where people are being killed off by a strange green monster.

This was the second of the “Blood Island” trilogy; I don’t know if there’s a direct connection to the first, BRIDES OF BLOOD, but the follow-up, BEAST OF BLOOD is definitely a sequel. Fans of gimmick marketing will certainly be charmed by the opening, in which the audience is told to drink the green blood that they received when they came to see the movie; this is supposed to protect them from becoming green-blooded monsters. Fans of bloody mayhem will be satisfied by this one; the attacks are truly gruesome and gory, making the sequel seem rather anemic by comparison. The non-English-speaking actors aren’t well dubbed, but it doesn’t really matter; the English-speaking actors don’t exactly rack up the best actor nominations either. It’s kind of fun in that sleazy drive-in sense, but I found the annoying camera tricks whenever the monster shows up (we get rapid zoom-in-zoom-out-zoom-in-zoom-out-etc. effects) is almost nauseating, and not in a fun way. There’s also a fair amount of nudity to add to the gore, including a nude love-making scene with Angelique Pettyjohn and John Ashley. It’s intermittently fun but intermittently disappointing as well.

Mickey’s Gala Premier (1933)

MICKEY’S GALA PREMIER (1933)
Animated Short
Article 2738 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-4-2008
Posting Date: 2-10-2009
Directed by Burt Gillett
Featuring the voices of Walt Disney and Marcellite Garner
Country: USA

A plethora of Hollywood movie stars comes out to Grauman’s Chinese Theater to see the premier of Mickey Mouse’s latest movie.

If you set aside for the moment the cartoon convention of talking animals, the fantastic content of this one is slight; among the audience members we have the Frankenstein Monster, Dracula and Mr. Hyde. Still, anyone who loves movies from the era will have a treat here, as we get a dizzying array of caricatures of stars from the period, including the Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, Joe E. Brown, Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Mae West, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante…. I could just go on. The antics of the audience are the real attraction here; the Mickey Mouse cartoon they watch (a movie within a movie) is fairly ordinary, though it does feature Mickey riding an odd array of beasties in his chase to rescue Minnie from Pegleg Pete. Actually, it would be fun to put together an animated anthology of cartoons that featured caricatures of great movie stars; I know Warner Brothers put out several cartoons over the years that feature that format. Great fun.

Made for Love (1926)

MADE FOR LOVE (1926)
Article 2699 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-21-2008
Posting Date: 1-2-2009
Directed by Paul Sloane
Featuring Leatrice Joy, Edmund Burns, Ethel Wales
Country: USA

A woman finds herself frustrated by her archaeologist fiance’s obsession with his job. She becomes embroiled with a local prince, who is secretly plotting to murder the archaeologist before he can break into the inner chamber of a tomb (which the prince has been secretly rifling for riches).

The fantastic content of this movie is that there is a curse on the tomb. So how does this play into the plot? Well, if you buy into the movie, lots. However, if, like me, you notice that most of the misfortune attributed to the curse can easily be explained by the stupidity and evil of certain characters rather than by any supernatural manifestation, then you might be wondering why you are wasting your time with what is essentially a romance (as if you couldn’t tell by the title). You know what a romance is, don’t you? It’s a movie where two characters who love each other act with monumental stupidity for the first ninety percent of the movie, and only reach a happy ending by regaining normal intelligence in the last reel. Sure, I can understand a man being too distracted by his job to pay sufficient attention to his fiancee, but not when most of that distraction involves staring at a vase for hours on end. Still, the lovers aren’t as thick-headed as the three would-be comic relief suitors who follow the fiancee around in the vain hope of winning her hand; really, if I were trying to win a woman, I would choose a better method than forming a comedy team with two other men trying to win her, because I’d know that any other suitor that came along would end up with a definite advantage. By the way, that’s Brandon Hurst as the pharoah in the flashback.