The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960)

THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE (1960)
aka Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse
Article 2365 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-16-2007
Posting Date: 2-2-2008
Directed by Fritz Lang
Featuring Dawn Addams, Peter van Eyck, Wolfgang Preiss

Though believed to have died in 1932, it appears that Dr. Mabuse is still alive and plotting evil. Police suspect that the center of operations is the Luxor Hotel, where many of the murder victims were known to have stayed before their deaths.

Lest we forget, the whole sixties cycle of Dr. Mabuse movies was kicked off by Fritz Lang himself, who directed this, his last movie, and cowrote the script. No, it’s not up to his earlier Dr. Mabuse movies, but it’s more subtle and sophisticated than the follow-ups made without Lang, though that doesn’t mean the sequels to this one are bad. This itself is a sequel to the THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE from 1932, which is referred to in the script and in the plot itself; the opening murder is a reprise of a murder sequence from that film. There’s a mystery element to this one; as you meet the residents of the hotel and the various interested parties, you know one of them is Mabuse himself, and that another is a secret detective assigned to the case. On top of the police commissioner played by Gert Frobe (not the same policeman he plays in the remake of the 1932 movie a few years later), we have a suicidal young woman, her doctor, a rich industrialist, a hotel detective, an insurance salesman, a blind spiritualist, and a jealous husband. The mystery element isn’t particularly puzzling; I rightly figured out who was who, though I was surprised by the fact that two of these people are one and the same. Dawn Addams is lovely, Gert Frobe and Peter Van Eyck both do fine work, and Wolfgang Preiss is excellent. The movie also features Howard Vernon as one of Mabuse’s hit men. The psychic provides some of the fantastic content, as does the implication that there’s something supernatural about Mabuse in the first place. The dubbing does detract a little from the proceedings, but overall, it is a worthwhile follow-up to the original Mabuse films.

 

Advertisements

The Terror of Dr. Mabuse (1962)

THE TERROR OF DR. MABUSE (1962)
aka Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse
Article 2364 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-15-2007
Posting Date: 2-1-2008
Directed by Werner Klingler
Featuring Gert Frobe, Senta Berger, Helmut Schmid

A series of crimes are being committed, and they point to the brilliant criminal mind of Dr. Mabuse. But Dr. Mabuse is committed to an insane asylum and has not been allowed to leave it. Could it be that he has developed a form of mind control…?

This was the fourth movie of the sixties revival of the Dr. Mabuse character, and also a remake of the 1933 Fritz Lang movie, THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE . Its lowly 5.4 rating on IMDB indicates that these movies aren’t highly regarded, and if you judge them in comparison with the Lang movies, I can understand that. I tend to look at them in comparison with the krimis, those semi-horrific German crime movies of the early sixties that are often based on works by Edgar Wallace, and to which these movies somewhat belong. Based on what I’ve seen of the Dr. Mabuse movies so far, they’re a cut above the other krimis; they’re coherent and quite exciting. I like this one even more than SCOTLAND YARD VS. DR. MABUSE ; Gert Frobe was an excellent choice to play the role of Inspector Lohmann, Wolfgang Preiss plays an intense and memorable Dr. Mabuse, and whoever plays the elegant main henchman (I think it may be Charles Regnier) practically steals the movie. I love some of the humor in this one; in particular, I like the moment when the henchman provides bus fare to some stranded guards. The henchman are actually well-differentiated rather than being faceless thugs, and this adds to the fun when the various criminal activities are committed. You should be able to recognize the actor who plays the disgraced policemen turned informer; it’s none other than Leon Askin, most famous for having played General Burkhalter on “Hogan’s Heroes”.

Personally, I find the sixties Dr. Mabuse movies to be a lot of fun.

 

The Thirteenth Chair (1937)

THE THIRTEENTH CHAIR (1937)
Article 2359 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-10-2007
Posting Date: 1-27-2008
Directed by George B. Seitz
Featuring Dame May Whitty, Madge Evans, Lewis Stone

A medium and a detective compete to see who can solve the murder of a blackmailer.

This is the third version of the Bayard Veiller play. The first version was a silent movie from 1919 that is most probably lost. The second one is rather interesting, as it was directed by Tod Browning and featured Bela Lugosi; it was also an early talkie with a static presentation that almost renders it unwatchable. This one has solid performances, good direction, and is certainly the more watchable, with Dame May Whitty taking the top honors as the medium. The movie also features an early movie performance by Henry Daniell; this must have been before he was typecast as a heavy, as he is removed from the list of suspects early on (rather decisively so, I might add). The horror elements are the seance sequences and a scene involving a dead man. It’s probably one of the classier movies of its ilk (the murder/seance movie, a form that ran hand in hand with the old dark house mysteries of the time); its main problem is that the story is pretty old hat, even for its time. One small piece of trivia; Holmes Herbert appeared in both this and the 1929 versions of the story in the same role.

 

Treachery and Greed on the Planet of the Apes (1981)

TREACHERY AND GREED ON THE PLANET OF THE APES (1981)
Article 2329 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-11-2007
Posting Date: 12-28-2007
Directed by Jack Starrett and Ralph Senensky
Featuring Ron Harper, James Naughton, Roddy McDowall

When a human saves Galen’s life from a scorpion sting by riding a horse to get the antidote, he finds himself up for execution because humans are not allowed to ride horses by ape law. Virdon and Burke try to save him. Then, when a tyrannical gorilla becomes the prefect of a small village, Galen, Virdon and Burke launch a plot to have him removed from his office by tricking him into making an assassination attempt on General Urko.

This is the fourth of the TV-Movies culled from the “Planet of the Apes” TV series, and the last I will cover for some time. This one is culled from episodes nine and eleven of the series, “The Horse Race” and “The Tyrant”. Most of the other movies I’ve seen in the series largely left the episodes intact; this one runs twenty minutes shorter than the others, and removes about ten minutes out of each of the two episodes. And, quite frankly, it helps; the stories move at a swift pace which makes them more interesting, even if some of the plot points get muddled or rushed into the story. The episodes seem better plotted and less preachy then some of the others I’ve seen, and that helps. I thought this one was the most enjoyable of the batch I’ve seen so far.

 

That Lady in Ermine (1948)

THAT LADY IN ERMINE (1948)
Article 2328 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-10-2007
Posting Date: 12-27-2007
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch and Otto Preminger
Featuring Betty Grable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Cesar Romero

When a castle in Italy is taken by an invading force of Hungarians, the ancestor of the current countess emerges from her painting with a plot to drive the Hungarians away.

I’ve only had the opportunity to see one other of Ernst Lubitsch’s oeuvre for this series; the 1918 silent movie THE EYES OF THE MUMMY . That one was hardly representative of a man who specialized in comedies noted for their light touch (the “Lubitsch touch” of legend); this one is more in line with what you would expect from him. There’s no doubt that there is a light comic touch here; the early scenes are incredibly charming and quite amusing. Yet, as the movie goes on, the charm starts to get stale and the humor begins to fade; I found the last twenty minutes to be quite dull. Still, this may not be Lubitsch’s fault; this was his last film, and he died before it was completed, so Otto Preminger stepped in and directed for the last ten days, and it’s quite possible that it may be his scenes that disappoint; though he could be quite an effective director himself, there’s really no legendary “Preminger touch”. So this one may not really be representative of his oeuvre, either. Out of curiosity, I went to IMDB and did a search on Ernst Lubitsch’s movies sorted by ratings, and this one was, sadly, second from the bottom. The only movie that rated lower? THE EYES OF THE MUMMY . I’d have to say that his high points weren’t genre movies.

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for Whit Bissell as another fugitive from a painting.

 

2002: The Rape of Eden (1994)

2002: THE RAPE OF EDEN (1994)
aka Bounty Hunter 2002
Article 2320 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-2-2007
Posting Date: 12-19-2007
Directed by Sam Auster
Featuring Phil Nordell, Francine Lapensee, Jeff Conaway

After the apocalypse (a plague this time), the most valuable commodity is an uninfected woman (known as a virgin), which are in short supply. A bounty hunter is assigned to find one by his Japanese employers, but she proves to be a fairly tough customer.

Here we are with another anomalous jump into the nineties. And here we are once again after the apocalypse. You know the kind; the ones where everybody lives in a desert, but they have plenty and guns, gas and ammunition and, despite the fact that there is now plenty of elbow room out there, people are desperately killing each other off like there’s no tomorrow. Still, you have to wonder just how bad the apocalypse was when the main character dreams of retiring from bounty hunting so he can play golf. This brings us around to the movie’s sole redeeming feature; it manages to have a sense of humor. It really doesn’t save the movie, which is a cheaply made, violent, badly-written, sometimes arty, sometimes unpleasant, sometimes idiotic compendium of badly-acted after-the-apocalypse cliches, but it does offer a bit of respite, which is something anyway. If you’re trying to watch every after-the-apocalypse movie ever made, I can safely recommend you keep this one fairly low on the list.

 

Trog (1970)

TROG (1970)

Article 2292 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-4-2007
Posting Date: 11-21-2007
Directed by Freddie Francis
Featuring Joan Crawford, Michael Gough, Bernard Kay

An anthropologist discovers a troglodyte hidden in a cave. She wants to experiment with it, but suspicious villagers fear it and want it destroyed, especially as it has already killed one student.

This movie’s reputation is such that one would believe that, in watching this movie, one is going to see the worst, campiest movie ever made. Well, I’ve seen worse and I’ve seen campier; BERSERK is certainly a lot campier, even if it is overall a somewhat better movie. This one is merely a tired compendium of cliches, with a particularly wretched script; I suspect it would just be discarded as a bad movie and forgotten if Joan Crawford hadn’t been in it. From my point of view, Crawford wisely underplays what she must have known was an awful part; there was very little she could do with the role to begin with. I think she comes off better than Michael Gough; though Gough is an excellent actor, I’ve never cared much for his performances when he took on bad-tempered acid-tongued sadists, and he’s in that mode all the time here, and it renders his character so that it comes across as even more one-dimensional than it was already written. The rest of it is monster-on-the-loose by-the-numbers, the sort of thing that yesterday’s movie (SCHLOCK ) was sending up. This is probably the least interesting of Herman Cohen’s forays into horror.