The Two-Headed Giant (1939)

Article 4591 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-27-2014
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Voice actors unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Animated comic fairy tale

A two-headed giant comes down from his castle in the clouds to attack a kingdom on the ground. Jack the Giant Killer rides to the rescue.

In my recent run of cartoons, this is my third foray into the world of Terrytoons, and it’s easily the best of the three. The animation is much more fluid, the music actually contributes to the action, and there are moments that are downright clever. Of the latter, I quite like, for example, a gag in which the giant tries to walk while one of its heads is still asleep, but can’t get half of his body to work because of it; it’s the type of gag that indicates a little inspiration and thought were going on, and they weren’t just sleepwalking through the creation of this. Still, most of the cartoon is on the ordinary side, and the cartoon is practically over by the time that Jack shows up. Nevertheless, this is one of the better cartoons I’ve seen from this studio.

3 Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964)

Article 4563 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-17-2014
Directed by Tommy Noonan
Featuring Mamie Van Doren, Tommy Noonan, Ziva Rodann
Country: USA
What it is: Sex comedy

An actor is hired by three neurotics living in the same house. All three want to see the same expensive psychiatrist, but they can’t afford her, so they pool their resources by having the actor see her in their stead and act out their problems. The psychiatrist believes the actor to have a multiple personality disorder. Hilarity ensues.

To give you an idea of what this movie considers most important, it’s important to note that most of the movie is in black and white. The four color sequences are all ones involving Mamie Van Doren; two of them have her singing, one has her stripping, and the other has her taking a bath in beer (and flashing quite a bit of flesh in the process). That being said, the movie doesn’t really try to coast on the exploitation value of those scenes alone; it’s really trying to be a wild, madcap comedy in the black and white scenes, and due to a certain amount of energy and a willing to go for inspired silliness, it succeeds enough to remain watchable. One thing that doesn’t really become clear is why it was included in one of my sources as having genre content. Certainly, madness is one of the subjects of horror films, and I’ve covered movies that dealt with multiple personalities before, but there was at least a glimmer of horror content to those movies, while this has none. So let’s call this one another false alarm, and move on down the line.

Tuck Everlasting (1981)

Article 4554 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-5-2014
Directed by Frederick King Keller
Featuring Margaret Chamberlain, Paul Flessa, Fred A. Keller
Country: USA
What it is: Fantasy

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a young teenage girl meets a family living in the nearby woods who have gained immortality from drinking from a special spring. They wish to keep the spring a secret, but a mysterious stranger may already know about it…

This is an independent low-budget fantasy based on a well-known children’s book. As you might expect, it’s not really flashy, but it’s likable, and the characters are appealing enough that you get caught up in the story and the situations. It also makes nice use of music, and despite the low budget, it does have some memorable images, especially the final shot of the movie. The movie would be remade 20 years later by Disney; I’ve not seen it, but I wonder if it has the same gentle charm of this version.

The Toolbox Murders (1978)

Article 4545 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-27-2014
Directed by Dennis Donnelly
Featuring Cameron Mitchell, Pamelyn Ferdin, Wesley Eure
Country: USA
What it is: Nihilistic gore

Someone is using various appliances from a toolbox to murder women in an apartment complex. One woman has not been killed, but appears to have been kidnapped. Police investigate. The brother of the kidnapped girl goes on his own investigation.

I suspect that this unpleasant and bloody piece of mayhem will mostly appeal to gorehounds and fans of nihilism. The first third of this movie will mostly appeal to the former; most of the murders occur during this segment, and for a while it looks like it will rack up one of the higher body counts if the genre. When describing the movie, most of my sources like to give away the identity of the killer, but the movie isn’t quite as cut and dried as all that; truth to tell, I’m not sure who killed the women during the first part of the movie. My problem is with the script; there’s a lot of clutter and unnecessary scenes (especially in the middle third of the movie), and there are times where I feel the movie is being made up as it goes along. In the end, I’m not sure that the movie makes much sense, especially once you realize that you’re dealing with two psychos, and the nihilism feels mostly like a convenient way to end the movie. The ending crawl reveals that this is based on a true story, but I never take comments like that at face value, and even if it was, that doesn’t mean that things played out just as they do here.

Tourist Trap (1979)

Article 4535 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2014
Directed by David Schmoeller
Featuring Chuck Connors, Jocelyn Jones, Jon Van Ness
Country: USA
What it is: Horror thriller

A group of teenagers on a trip find themselves stranded at a remote rustic museum full of wax figures with a madman on the loose… and the latter has telekinetic powers.

The basic premise here is a very familiar seventies/eighties horror theme; young people in a remote isolated location being threatened by one or more homicidal maniacs; the telekinetic ability could be just an added twist to the mix. There’s also a number of plot twists that certainly won’t be surprising. Nevertheless, there’s a downright strange vibe to this one that sets it apart from the mix. It’s anchored by an interesting performance by Chuck Connors, who finds levels and quirks in his character that you don’t often see in horror movies. It also turns oddly comic at unexpected times, and the mood switch is a bit jarring, but perhaps not inappropriately so. The telekinesis is mostly used to make the various mannequins and wax figures come to life, an effect which is distinctly eerie. It doesn’t quite hit the heights of horror it aspires to, but it is fascinatingly eerie, and is quite watchable. This one was really a lot better than I expected.

Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)

Article 4531 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-11-2014
Directed by William Dear
Featuring Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote
Country: USA
What it is: Time travel story

A motorcyclist is caught up in a time travel experiment and is sent 105 years into the past. He meets a girl. Villains see his bike and want it for their own. Stuff happens.

There’s some mildly diverting motorcycle stunt work in the movie. The acting is adequate, and the cussing in the script, unlike that of TWILIGHT’S LAST GLEAMING, doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It’s also interesting to note the presence of former Monkee Michael Nesmith in several production capacities, including co-writer and uncredited co-producer. I also do not hate this movie, which is a good thing. I do think, however, that there really isn’t very much to the story here; it’s basically about a guy who goes into the past with a modern invention (the motorcycle), and a bunch of villains from the past try to get hold of the invention, and, with the exception of a not-entirely-original time paradox twist near the very end, it is utterly predictable. As far as I can tell, this is one of those movies that is simply not special in any way.

2069: A Sex Odyssey (1974)

2069: A SEX ODYSSEY (1974)
aka Ach jodel mir noch einen – Stosstrupp Venus blast zum Angriff
Article 4530 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-10-2014
Directed by Georg Tressler
Featuring Nina Frederik, Catharina Conti, Heidrun Hankammer
Country: West Germany / Austria
What it is: Sex comedy (as if you couldn’t guess)

Five women from Venus land on Earth with a mission to gather as much spermatozoa as they can. They land near a small German village where they are mistaken for a French ski team. Many encounters ensue.

Once again, I find myself pointing out that it is my desire to be comprehensive in my coverage of the fantasy/horror/science fiction genres, and this does lead me to certain films I wouldn’t bother with otherwise, and this takes me once again into the realm of sexploitation. On that level, this one is rather mild; it only garners an R rating. That’s one of the two surprises in the movie; the other is that it is a hair funnier than I expected it would be, but then, I didn’t expect it to be funny at all (though I certainly expected it to try). Beyond that, this movie is pretty much at the level you’d expect. This one is checked off; let’s move on.