Reve de singe (1978)

Reve de singe (1978)’
aka Ciao maschio, Bye Bye Monkey
Article 5977 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-16-2021
Directed by Marco Ferreri
Featuring Gerard Depardieu, Marcello Mastroianni, James Coco
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Art film

An employee at a wax museum decides to raise a chimpanzee found in the hand of the corpse of King Kong.

I’m not really sure what the reality of this film is. Is the corpse of King Kong really what it is, or is it a work of art? Is the chimp the son of Kong or just a chimp? There are lots of other ambiguities as well that are never really resolved. Some scenes involve the main character’s work with a feminist theatre, his relationship with the manager of a wax museum dedicated to ancient Rome who has been blackmailed by the government to change the faces of his figures to those of modern politicians, his love affair with an actress, and his friendship with a group of people, one of which is a lonely asthmatic played by Marcello Mastroianni. The French title translates as “The Monkey Dream”, and the Italian title translates as “Goodbye to Macho”. I suspect the true center of the film is caught in the Italian title; it certainly points to an obvious symbolic value to the corpse of King Kong, nor does it indicate a positive fate for the chimpanzee in the film. Nevertheless, I can’t say I really felt satisfied with this one, though I like some of Ferreri’s other works.

Return of the Wolf Man (1957)

Return of the Wolf Man (1957)
Article 5976 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2021
Directed by Donald F. Glut
Featuring Donald F. Glut
Country: USA
What it is: Amateur classic monster mayhem

A thief in a basement accidentally revives Dracula, who then returns to his experiments and revives the Frankenstein monster. Then the Wolf Man shows up. Who will win this monster showdown?

We’re back in amateur movie-making mode with this one; Donald F. Glut was 13 years old when he made this one. It’s fun, like the other amateur films I’ve seen from him, but once again it shouldn’t be compared to a professional production. Which is not to say that no interesting observations can’t be made from doing so; for the record, I found the story here much more coherent than the professional martial arts movie I watched earlier today (RETURN OF THE KUNG FU DRAGON). Still, part of the fun of this one is figuring out how he did his special effects; I do see some creative use of record turntables here, for example.

The Return of the Kung Fu Dragon (1976)

The Return of the Kung Fu Dragon (1976)
aka Ju ma pao
Article 5975 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2021
Directed by Chi-Lien Yu and Kang Yu
Featuring Polly Ling-Feng Shang-Kuan, Chung Chien Li, Sing Chen
Country: Taiwan
What it is: Where choreographers and Foley Artists rule.

The Golden City is taken over by a usurper with the help of a sorcerer. Nineteen years later, descendants of the original generals decide to take the city back.

This is one of those martial arts films that takes place in a fantasy world, thus ensuring it a review here. As for the story line… well, I lost track of it shortly after the opening monologue set up the situation, but I was able to pick up the thread again when the ending monologue explained how the situation was resolved. In between we have the results of an intense collaboration between fight choreographers and the sound effects department. The presence of a female martial arts practitioner as the main hero is the most striking aspect of this one; her cocky attitude and comic bits are the best things about this movie. We also get a strange imp-like character and a sorcerer whose beard is so long he has a personal valet to keep track of it. The rest is pretty much just what you’d expect from this type of movie. So… onward.

Return of the Boogeyman (1994)

Return of the Boogeyman (1994)
Article 5974 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2021
Directed by Deland Nuse and Ulli Lommel
Featuring Kelley Galindo, Suzanna Love, Omar Kaczmarczyk
Country: USA
What it is: If you loved the original, watch it again!

A psychiatrist tries to help a troubled woman who is having dreams that consist of footage from THE BOOGEYMAN.

Apparently, there must be some law that says you can’t make a sequel to THE BOOGEYMAN that doesn’t consist of mostly footage from THE BOOGEYMAN. The new footage is here mostly to set up the old footage from the original movie, only this time providing us with mostly redundant descriptions of the actions taking place before your eyes. It all builds up to an entirely predictable final twist that will only make you shake your head in tired disbelief. In short, there’s no reason for this movie to exist other than to milk a few more bucks from the original. This movie is the biggest waste of time since the first sequel to THE BOOGEYMAN.

The Rainbow Man (1949)

The Rainbow Man (1949)
aka Nijiotoko
Article 5973 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-4-2021
Directed by Kiyohiko Ushihara
Featuring Keiju Kobayashi, Teruko Akatsuki, Katsuko Wakasugi
Country: Japan
What it is: Horror mystery

A dedicated woman reporter comes to the aid of a friend of hers who is under suspicion of murder. It is discovered her family is under a curse; anyone who sees the dreaded Rainbow Man will die a bizarre death.

Since much of the story takes place in a spooky old house and involves a family curse, there is a little horror atmosphere to contend with, even if the fact that it plays out more like a mystery and those little tinglings of deja vu you experience may lead you back to SHE-WOLF OF LONDON. It even has a touch of science fiction in that the plot does involve artificial rainbows. The movie at least realizes that if the visual motif you are relying on is a rainbow, it might be nice to have a bit of color to jazz up a noirish black and white movie. You should be able to figure out on your own one of the plot twists that logically derives from the fact that the identity of the corpse at the beginning of the movie was so disfigured that he could only by identified by the clothes he was wearing. The atmosphere adds to the plus side, but much of the plot unfolds in a rather dull manner and it’s a bit on the slow side. Overall, I found this one a bit disappointing.

Raiding the Raiders (1945)

Raiding the Raiders (1945)
Article 5972 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-4-2021
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Mighty Mouse cartoon

After the stork arrives, there are several new additions to a family of bunnies. Unfortunately, they become the target of a tribe of hungry vultures. Can Mighty Mouse save the day?

If Standard Issue Mighty Mouse Plot # 1 is has Mighty Mouse saving a bunch of mice from marauding cats of some sort, Standard Issue Mighty Mouse Plot # 2 is pretty much the same except it changes up the species of the oppressed (in this case, bunnies) and/or the species of the oppressor (in this case, vultures). As usual, Mighty Mouse doesn’t appear until the third act of the proceedings, and his defeat of the vultures is almost over before it begins (and for those who feel I’m engaging in spoilers here, did you really think the vultures would prevail?). This would make for another forgettable entry into the series, but the first half of the cartoon is genuinely amusing; I enjoyed the fact that the arrival of the stork (which you would think would be a relatively easy method of child delivery) still requires the presence of the doctor and the boiling of water, and I’m only surprised they didn’t have a scene of the prospective father pacing back and forth until he inadvertently digs a trench in the floor. At any rate, I give the cartoon an extra point or two for this bit, making it one of the better entries in the series.

Le roi des dollars (1905)

Le roi des dollars (1905)
Article 5909 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-23-2020
Directed by Segundo de Chomon
Cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Magic trick short

A number of magic tricks are performed with coins.

I’ve covered so many “magic trick” shorts from the early silents that I was tempted to skip reviewing this one. However, I was struck by the fact that Chomon found such a novel way to frame the magic tricks here that I felt it deserved notice. Chomon focuses only on the arm and hand of the magician, so we get a much closer look at the coin appearing out of nowhere. Since I suspect camera tricks were used rather than sleight of hand, I have to say that the cuts are pretty seamless for the most part, and the hand movements really make it look like it’s sleight of hand. What I found most striking is that the tricks also involve a man’s head being tapped by the hand, causing him to spit out a stream of gold coins (thanks to hand-coloring). I don’t know who the head really belongs to, but he looks for all the world like Melies, which may be a reference or may be coincidence. At any rate, this is indeed a striking example of the “magic trick” short.

The Ringmaster (1934)

The Ringmaster (1934)
aja Fetiche prestidigitateur
Article 5824 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-3-2020
Directed by Wladyslaw Starewicz
Voice cast unknown
Country: France
What it is: Puppet animation

While his owner sleeps, a puppet dog stages a circus with his toy friends and the help of a magic hat.

Fetiche the puppet dog was the main character in Starewicz’s classic, THE MASCOT. The character was apparently popular enough that he made several shorts featuring him. This one isn’t anywhere near the inspired epic weirdness of the earlier film, but it has its whimsical charm nonetheless. Fetiche has to step in and take the place of a female acrobat and a male lion tamer, who, being paper dolls, were two lightweight for their given tasks. As usual, Starewicz’s puppet animation is a joy to see, and there are some fun moments, but this is one of the more minor works in his oeuvre.

Rebirth of Mothra (1966)

Rebirth of Mothra (1996)
aka Mosura
Article 5710 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-27-2020
Directed by Okihiro Yoneda
Featuring Megumi Kobayashi, Sayaka Yamaguchi, Aki Hano
Country: Japan
What it is: Moth mayhem

An industrialist unwittingly removes a seal that kept a destructive monster under control. Can Mothra and her child defeat this terrible monster before the Earth is destroyed.

I find it easy to forget about the trio of Mothra films made in the gap between the Heisei and Millennium Godzilla series. I can certainly understand why they were made; there’s a fairy tale quality to Mothra that hadn’t been tapped for decades, largely because after her first appearance, she only showed up in Godzilla films. And if there is anything this movie does right, it’s that it clearly taps into that feel; this movie is one of the least realistic-looking kaijus I’ve seen. I wish the story was better and the movie was shorter; the movie spends a lot of time spinning its wheels, and many of the scenes go on far too long. We see far too much of the twins as well; they work better when they’re used sparingly, though it is a nice touch that there is an evil third sister. There was a lot of eye candy here, but I’m afraid it really wore out its welcome before it was all over.

Return of the Monster Maker (1958)

Return of the Monster Maker (1958)
Article 5706 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-19-2020
Directed by Donald F. Glut
Featuring Donald F. Glut, Charles Martinka, Wayne Moretti
Country: USA
What it is: A labor of love

Dr. Frankenstein creates a new monster. It goes berserk.

I have a certain amount of trepidation in reviewing an amateur film made by a teenager; it certainly can’t and shouldn’t be compared to professional product. Nor was it ever intended for the general public; it was a labor of love made by a kid who loved the movies and loved the classic monsters. If I’d had access to a movie camera in my youth, I might have tried the same thing myself. Watching something like this helps me recapture that sense of wonder I had about those classic movies, and it feels good to rekindle that feeling and remember that it was and is shared by millions of us. Still, the coolest thing about this amateur short is the excellent Frankenstein monster mask worn by one of the actors. It may be an amateur film, but it warms me in a way that very few professional films can.