The Nude Bomb (1980)

Article 4475 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-15-2014
Directed by Clive Donner
Featuring Don Adams, Andrea Howard, Sylvia Kristel
Country: USA
What it is: “Get Smart” revival

Maxwell Smart, Agent 86, is called on to prevent KAOS from blackmailing the world with its new weapon, a bomb that can destroy every shred of clothing in the world.

Let’s see, Chief has been replaced, there’s no Control, 99 is missing, there’s no Hymie, Siegfried, or Starker, the wonderful original theme music is used nowhere, and there’s no reprise of Smart walking through the endless doors. So that leaves only Don Adams and Robert Karvelas (as Larrabee) as the strong links to the original series, and, truth be told, this movie made me realize just how much I missed all the others. Sure, Don Adams still has his old catchphrases on hand and he uses them well, but he can’t carry the movie all on his own, especially with a weak story and a smirkingly exploitative premise like this one. The only other actors that seem to tap into the comic sense of the story are Bill Dana and Joey Forman (who takes on the role of Agent 13). The movie is at its worst when it’s trying to be more adult or relying on some terrible action sequences. I have a great fondness for the original series; I have little for this movie.

The Neverending Story (1984)

aka Die unendliche Geschichte
Article 4471 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-11-2014
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Featuring Noah Hathaway, Barret Oliver, Tami Stronach
Country: West Germany / USA
What it is: High fantasy

A young boy leading a troubled life manages to get a book that he is told is too dangerous for him to read. He reads it and finds himself immersed in a quest to save the land of Fantasia from being consumed by nothingness, but he soon discovers that he has more invested in the story than he thinks…

I’ve not read the book on which this movie was based, but I do know that the movie only covers about half of the book, and that author Michael Ende was not happy with this adaptation of his work. Even without being familiar with the book itself, I do sense that there is something a bit incomplete about the movie, and there are some scenes that seem too pat (in particular, a revenge scene involving three bullies) while others seem anti-climatic. Still, there’s enough here to make me look forward to reading the novel someday, and there are some moments that I like very much indeed. This was apparently the most expensive movie made in West Germany at that time, and though the special effects aren’t always convincing, they are fun and atmospheric. My favorite scene is the saddest in the movie; it’s the scene where the Rock Biter talks about his hands. In a sense, it feels somewhat like a children’s version of the Thomas Covenant novels by Stephen R. Donaldson. I don’t quite rate it with the best fantasy movies I’ve seen, but I do think it is very good.

Nazi S.S. (1966)

NAZI S.S. (1966)
aka Borman
Article 4457 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-21-2014
Directed by Bruno Paolinelli
Featuring Sandro Moretti, Liana Orfei, Dominique Boschero
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Spyghetti… sort of

Escaped Nazi Martin Borman hatches a plot designed to resurrect the Third Reich, and it’s up to an American agent to find him and stop him.

It occurred to me on viewing this how rarely Nazis popped up as villains in the Superspy genre, given how ubiquitous they have been as villains over the years. I suspect there are reasons for this, not the least of which is that the source for so many of the Bond-inspired movies was Italy, which was one of Germany’s allies during WWII; as a result, I suspect there might be a bit of cultural discomfort with the idea. This is one of the rare exceptions, and I do notice that the movie wavers a bit between being a more serious spy adventure and a superspy movie, as if it’s not quite sure which way it wants to go. Storywise, the movie is passable, but between the heavy use of stock footage and the scenes of people walking from one place to another (which serves the dual purpose of padding the film and showing off the location footage), it gets pretty dull on occasion. Easily the most memorable scene involves a crash landing on an aircraft carrier, which I suspect is a cleverly used piece of stock footage, but I might be wrong. As far as the fantastic content goes, it’s very slight here; there’s some minor gadgetry, and since the action involves a historical character involved in a world-changing event, it might qualify as political science fiction, but that feels like a real stretch.

Night Games (1980)

Article 4398 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-21-2013
Directed by Roger Vadim
Featuring Cindy Pickett, Barry Primus, Joanna Cassidy
Country: France / USA
What it is: Erotic drama

A housewife, scarred by a rape, finds it impossible to consummate with her husband. When he goes on a trip and leaves her alone, she fires the help and stays in the mansion by herself. Then she begins to get erotic visits from a fantasy figure…

As for the fantastic content, the fantasy sequences (which mostly involve her lover dressing up in strange costumes) might make it marginally a fantasy, and a subplot about her being stalked by a would-be killer might give it a touch of horror, but to me, neither of these touches are enough to really push it into genre territory. As for the movie itself, all I can say is that it’s less bizarrely silly than some of the other Roger Vadim movies I’ve seen, but then, not being a fan (and this movie didn’t turn me into one), I’ve not exactly went out of my way to find them. The movie may have an interesting premise involving rape trauma, but I’d hardly say that it really does justice to the theme, and most of the movie seems to be about Cindy Pickett wandering around a mansion in revealing clothes. If you’re a Cindy Pickett fan, go for it; for me, it was mostly a waste of time.

The Nights of Terror (1981)

aka Burial Ground, Le notti del terrore
Article 4373 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-21-2013
Directed by Andrea Bianchi
Featuring Karin Well, Gianluigi Chrizzi, Simone Mattioli
Country: Italy
What it is: Chow time for corpses

An archaeologist releases hordes of hungry walking dead men from a crypt. A group of people in a nearby manor try to keep from being their meals.

What can you say about a movie that takes as little care with its plot development, dialogue and character development as this one does? Well, considering this is an Italian zombie movie of the eighties, you can probably safely conclude that every character is disposable enough that barely anyone will be left alive at the end of the movie. Granted, it’s hard to build up much suspense when you’re given little reason to care for any of the characters, but let’s face it, this movie isn’t going for suspense; it’s going for gross-out. In short, you’re going to get lots of blood, maggots, worms, and entrails. The closest the movie ever comes to doing anything original with the idea is to throw in a tasteless incest subplot, the purpose of which is to set up an appalling shock scene that is more than a little predictable. I’m sure the movie has its defenders, but I’m afraid I find very little to recommend here.

Oh, and by the way. Whoever wrote the quote that ends the movie should be aware that the word “prophecy” has a “ph” instead of an ‘f’, and that “night” is not spelled “nigth”.

Nathalie, Agent Secret (1959)

aka Atomic Agent
Article 4372 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Henri Decoin
Featuring Martine Carol, Felix Marten, Dario Moreno
Country: France / Italy
What it is: Spy story

A model turned adventuress finds herself involved with spies who are after an atomic motor.

Here’s another title that I saved from my “ones that got away” list, and like many of the others, I was only able to come by it without English subtitles or dubbing. This one is extremely talky, so much so that I found it nearly impossible to make out the plot; I’m not even sure whether the spies are trying to get the plans for the atomic motor or whether they already have them. One thing I can say is that for a movie that IMDB classifies as an action thriller, there’s not much in the way of action or thrills. If it’s not an outright comedy (which is what it feels like), it’s certainly not to be taken very seriously. In fact, the key word in the plot description would be “model”; the movie seems more interesting in the revealing and sexy costumes the main character wears during the movie. It reminds me a little bit of Jesus Franco’s TWO UNDERCOVER ANGELS which I’ve seen recently, albeit with much less interest in de Sade; I couldn’t help but note the presence of Franco favorite Howard Vernon here. Well, whatever the merits of this movie, I can say this much; the atomic motor which provides the fantastic content is seen sputtering away in the first scene of the movie, and then is not seen in action again, so as far as the fantastic content goes, it’s probably pure Gizmo Maguffin.

Nebelmorder (1964)

aka The Fog Murderer
Article 4370 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 11-18-2013
Directed by Eugen York
Featuring Hansjorg Felmy, Ingmar Zeisberg, Elke Arendt
Country: West Germany
What it is: Krimi

A serial killer who attacks victims in the woods on foggy nights is on the loose. Police attempt to track him down.

Even when they’re dubbed into English, krimis can be a little difficult to follow, so I didn’t expect to have a lot of luck following this one, which is in German without subtitles. Still, this doesn’t look like your usual krimi; it’s more youth-oriented, less stylish, and seems to be more straightforward than usual. Furthermore, it seems to be from another company than the usual run of krimis. It is also, unfortunately, very talky, and therefore very difficult to follow; I will have to reserve judgment on this one. However, I suspect that this one could prove to be pretty good if I could follow it; there seems to be an interesting plot element involving insects, and even with not being able to understand the language, there’s a climactic interrogation sequence that looks fairly gripping. There’s only a few moody scenes for the horror content, though; most of the movie involves students talking to each other or police investigating. I suspect this one would prove to be fairly decent.

The Night Before Christmas (1933)

Article 4347 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-25-2013
Directed by Wilfred Jackson
Featuring the voice of Donald Novis
Country: USA
What it is: Christmas cartoon

While the children sleep, Santa comes down the chimney and sets out toys for the children.

It’s a Disney “Silly Symphony” from the thirties. It’s very well animated and packed with whimsy. The toys help Santa to decorate the tree, Santa fills up the stockings, the kids hear something and come to investigate, Santa escapes before they arrive… you know, when you get down to it, this is the kind of stuff I’d expect from an animated Christmas cartoon. So why am I somewhat disappointed? It’s because, for all the whimsy, there’s nothing that happens that is truly surprising or causes the cartoon to become something special. In short, as well done as it is, it’s not really inspired. It’s Disney on automatic, and I doubt I’ll remember much about it after I finish this review.

Nurse Sherri (1978)

Article 4346 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-24-2013
Directed by Al Adamson
Featuring Geoffrey Land, Jill Jacobson, Marilyn Joi
Country: USA
What it is: Sex and horror

When a cult leader dies on the operating table, his spirit takes possession of a nurse and seeks to destroy everyone involved with the operation.

The opening ten minutes of this movie deals with a diabetic cult member who was told by the leader that he no longer needed to take insulin if he just believed in the powers that the leader had. The cult member dies, and he cult leader is convinced that he can solve the problem by using the powers to bring the boy back to life. I found that a much more intriguing premise than the one that is the center of this movie; it turns out that the whole beginning is merely a set-up to get the leader to have a heart attack and wind up on the operating table, and it never returns to the earlier ideas. This is another Al Adamson movie, and if there’s one thing I can say about him, it’s that he has a discernible style; if it weren’t for the endless parade of softcore sex scenes to pad out the movie, it could fit in easily with his late sixties/early seventies output. As it is, the sex scenes may be the only thing that keep you awake, as the movie is lifeless and dull; the script is silly, and the acting is weak. You know, I can’t help but notice that ever since I moved from the silent shorts I was watching to the more recent movies, I’ve had the misfortune to encounter Jerry Warren, Larry Buchanan, Andy Milligan and Al Adamson all within one month. Maybe I should have stuck with the silent shorts….

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Article 4341 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 10-19-2013
Directed by Wes Craven
Featuring John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Heather Langenkamp
Country: USA
What it is: Dreamworld serial killer

Several teenagers begin having nightmares about a stripe-shirted razor-fingered mutilated man trying to kill them. When one of them ends up dying horribly, it becomes apparent that the death at the hands of the killer means death in real life.

It looks like I’m having a bit of a run of child-murderer movies here. Actually, I’ve long been curious about this one. The basic concept is brilliant; having a killer that can stalk his victims in their dreams really opens the door to all sorts of possibilities in terms of spooky, non-realistic imagery. It also means that during the dream sequences, normal standards of logic and smart behavior are not relevant; when confronting a killer in a dream, there may be no such thing as a good choice. Still, a certain degree of internal logic makes for a more intriguing story, and when the script starts addressing the issue of how the dream world interfaces with the real world, opening up the possibilities that Freddy Krueger is indeed a defeatable entity, it’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the script as a whole isn’t quite up to the concept or its best moments; clumsy moments abound, and the script ultimately turns its back on its own internal logic. As a result, I can understand why the concept was interesting enough to lead to a whole slew of sequels, but I can also see why the series would get quite tiresome after a bit. The movie also features the movie acting debut of Johnny Depp, and Robert Englund would actually achieve a certain level of horror movie stardom as Freddy Krueger. All in all, it’s a good horror movie; a better script might have made it a real classic.