The Neptune Factor (1973)

THE NEPTUNE FACTOR (1973)
Article 1820 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-9-2006
Posting Date: 8-6-2006
Directed by Daniel Petrie
Featuring Ben Gazzara, Walter Pidgeon, Ernest Borgnine

When an earthquake causes an underwater lab to drop into an abyss, a small submarine sets out to rescue the people inside.

Those who have seen my MOTDs for VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA and AROUND THE WORLD UNDER THE SEA may well conclude that I just don’t like underwater submarine epics. And they may well be right. However, I must say that both of the above movies look awfully good in comparison with this one; at least those movies aspired to have interesting things happen, whereas this one seemed merely content to fill running time. At any rate, this movie has inspired me to speculate on what possibly might have been the most and least frequently used quotes on the set of the making of this movie would be. Remember, this is all purely speculative.

THE 5 MOST FREQUENT COMMENTS MADE ON THE SET OF THIS MOVIE.

1) “I need another shot of you standing there, saying nothing, and looking concerned.”

2) “I think we need another scene involving coffee.”

3) “My, that diving suit takes almost fifty pounds off of you, Mr. Borgnine.”

4) “Remember, don’t overfeed the monsters, or else they’ll end up belly-up at the top of the tank.”

5) “Sure, I can make an underwater movie. Just give me a toy submarine and a fishtank…”

THE 5 LEAST FREQUENT COMMENTS MADE ON THE SET OF THIS MOVIE.

1) “Let’s try for some suspense in this scene!”

2) “I want you all to do this next scene with feeling!”

3) “Hey, let’s lighten the proceedings with a little bit of humor here!”

4) “This is the movie I’ve been waiting to make for years!”

5) “A sequel? Count me in!”

And for those still interested, the fantastic content is that the movie has some really big fish.

1990: The Bronx Warriors (1982)

1990: THE BRONX WARRIORS (1982)
Article #1767 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-15-2006
Posting Date: 6-14-2006
Directed by Enzo G. Castellari
Featuring Vic Morrow, Christopher Connelly, Fred Williamson

In the near future (1990, to be exact), an heiress to an armaments empire escapes from Manhattan and hooks up with a gang leader in the Bronx named Trash. However, the powers that be want her back, and send a cop named Hammer into the Bronx to find her and bring her back.

From Sword-and-Sandal movies to James Bond ripoffs to Spaghetti Westerns to movies like these, you can always count on the Italian film industry to find some new action movie paradigm which they can use as a template to produce a huge amount of product with which to flood the market. I got this one as part of a collection of post-apocalyptic movies, but there is no mention of an apocalypse in the storyline. However, there is a certain similarity to movies like THE ROAD WARRIOR here, as well as to ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and (especially) THE WARRIORS. This movie contains lots of bloody but photogenic violence, a pouty but good-looking hero who (or whose dubber) can’t act his way out of a wet paper bag, a villain who is played by the most familiar name in the cast, a variety of bizarre theme gangs to liven up the proceedings, and a whole slew of strange weaponry. Take out all of the violence and you have the beginning and ending credits. Take out the cussing and you cut the script in half. It all ends with violent free-for-all involving motorcycles, helicopters and flame-thrower wielding horseman that damn near kills off the entire cast. The ending is a little downbeat, with the final moral being that the corporate police state will eventually crush you under its thumb, but until then, you can get a little satisfaction out of taking out its goons. The characters have names like Hammer, Hot Dog, the Ogre, Trash, Golan, Ice, Witch, Hawk, Blade and Leech. The movie also features action-movie and former football star Fred Williamson, whose mustache has so much character it should get a separate credit.

I get the funny feeling that I’m going to end up watching a lot of movies like this…

Night of Bloody Horror (1969)

NIGHT OF BLOODY HORROR (1969)
Article #1757 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-5-2006
Posting Date: 6-4-2006
Directed by Joy N. Houck Jr.
Featuring Gerald McRaney, Gay Yellen, Michael Anthony

A man who suffers blackouts (as portrayed by a psychedelic blue spiral) finds that his sexual partners are murdered during these blackouts.

I just can’t tell you how glad I was to watch another movie about a psycho sex killer with an incestuous undertone right on the heels of watching THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED. (Please be aware that the preceding sentence contains a palpable amount of sarcasm.) As a rule, I tend to distrust horror movies whose titles seem to consist of nothing but horror movie buzzwords, and this movie does little to convince me that I’m wrong in this regard. The marketing campaign claimed that it was “Filmed in Violent Vision”, and theater patrons were insured for one thousand dollars against death by fright while watching the movie. It’s a measure of the movie’s derivitiveness when even its marketing campaign was lifted from another film, and Joy N. Houck Jr. has none of the fun directorial qualities of William Castle. The first murder is the best; the rest of them are fairly substandard ax murders, and though Gerald McRaney (who would later gain in the TV series “Simon & Simon” and “Major Dad”) tries his best in the lead role, but the script can’t decide whether his character is sympathetic or repellent, and so you end not caring one way or another. Anybody who has seen PSYCHO won’t be surprised by the revelations at the end of the movie.

The Net (1953)

THE NET (1953)
(a.k.a. PROJECT M7)
Article #1744 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-23-2005
Posting Date: 5-22-2006
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Featuring James Donald, Phyllis Calvert, Robert Beatty

The designer of a test aircraft (to be followed by one which will go into outer space) insists on flying it himself despite the fact that his superiors don’t want to risk his life. Furthermore, there appears to be a spy in the project as well.

The science fiction content of this movie is the aircraft itself, and the scenes of it tooling through the stratosphere are quite breathtaking at times. The movie also has an exciting conclusion that takes place in the cockpit of the airplane. However, these scenes take up only a fraction of the running time of the movie, most of which consists of some fairly tepid drama involving power struggles, loyalties, and potential romantic affairs. So once again we have an invention whose main purpose in the story is to serve as a backdrop for a more mundane drama and to serve as a prize in a plot by a spy. The patient fan might find it worth the wait for the flying sequences, and it also features an early performance by Herbert Lom.

Night Watch (1973)

NIGHT WATCH (1973)
Article #1742 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-21-2005
Posting Date: 5-20-2006
Directed by Brian G. Hutton
Featuring Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey, Billie Whitelaw

A woman sees a murder take place in an abandoned house across from her home, but the police find nothing when they investigate. She begins to think that she is going crazy.

In some ways, this movie is inevitable; ever since the movie GASLIGHT set up a template for a specific kind of thriller, It would only be a matter of time before someone took the template and added the twist ending that can be found in this movie. And, to be honest, the twist is pretty good; it’s the best thing about the movie. Still, in order to use this twist, you pretty much have to follow the GASLIGHT template for most of the movie’s running time, and I’ve never been particularly fond of that template: I get annoyed with its predictability and its shrillness. You’re always treated to endless scenes of a hysterical woman screaming at people to believe her, and they don’t (because she’s hysterical), and this just makes her more hysterical, etc. etc. etc. The fact that it’s Elizabeth Taylor providing the hysterics doesn’t really alleviate the fact that the movie spends most of its time walking an overused path. In short, I didn’t find that the final twist really compensated for the over-familiarity of most of the movie.

Night in Paradise (1946)

NIGHT IN PARADISE (1946)
Article #1741 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-20-2005
Posting Date: 5-19-2006
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Featuring Merle Oberon, Turhan Bey, Thomas Gomez

When a sorceress is swindled by King Croesus, she vows revenge. She uses her magic powers to get Aesop to steal away Croesus’s bride-to-be, Delarai.

Hollywood ventures into sword-and-sandal territory with this costume picture, and if it takes itself way too seriously half the time, the other half of the time it’s aggressively courting silliness. Still, it has some good performances; I barely recognized Turhan Bey in what amounts to a dual role (let’s just say that Aesop is not quite what he seems), Thomas Gomez, Gale Sondergaard and Merle Oberon do fine jobs, but Ray Collins steals the show as Leonides, adviser to the king. It gets a little racy at times; in particular, a gag involving a statue being cleaned must have slipped by the censors somehow. It also has some of the worst crowd acting I’ve ever seen; notice how whenever a crowd gathers together, they’re all saying the exact same thing?

No Survivors, Please (1964)

NO SURVIVORS, PLEASE (1964)
(a.k.a. DER CHEF WUNSCHT KEINE ZEUGEN)
Article #1689 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-29-2005
Posting Date: 3-28-2006
Directed by Hans Albin and Peter Beneis
Featuring Maria Perschy, Robert Cunningham, Uwe Friedrichsen

Aliens wishing to destroy the people on Earth do so by killing and taking over the bodies of noteworthy people, and using them to try to set in motion a nuclear holocaust.

Alien invasion and alien possession movies are nothing new; in some ways, this movie is covering the same ground as THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH. However, this one takes things several steps further; in fact, I find something frighteningly logical about aliens destroying us by getting us to destroy ourselves, rather than using their own resources and putting their own expense into it. The movie is a mixed bag of sorts; the direction is indifferent and the story is often confusing. At times it seems like a comedy; certainly the scene in which an alien pilot preparing to crash an airplane starts quizzing his copilot about his insurance coverage is amusing. This is balanced out by the occasional grimness, and if at times the thematic elements become downright corny, at others they are truly unsettling. This is not a perfect movie by any means, but it’s one of those in which so many of the elements are fascinating, it’s worth catching. It’s fascinating to sort out the good guys from the bad guys, and to try to follow when they switch sides. I also like the ambiguous stalemate of an ending.