Terror at Red Wolf Inn (1972)

TERROR AT RED WOLF INN (1972)
aka Terror House, The Folks at Red Wolf Inn
Article 3438 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-4-2010
Posting Date: 1-12-2011
Directed by Bud Townsend
Featuring Linda Gillen, John Neilson, Arthur Space
Country: USA
What it is: Inn with a dreadful secret movie

A college student wins a free vacation at the quaint Red Wolf Inn. However, the inn holds a dreadful secret…

… And I’m not going to give away that secret here out of respect for those who go into this one knowing nothing about it, but practically every review and plot description gives the game away. Not that it’s any great mystery; though the movie doesn’t explicitly let us know the situation until a long ways into it, anyone familiar with the subgenre of this type of movie will pick up the early hints, particularly in an early extended scene where we see several of the prize-winners chow down with their hosts. My major problem with the movie is that nobody acts with much intelligence; the hosts don’t do a particularly strong job of hiding their secrets from their prizewinners, nor do they show much real initiative when the prizewinners do discover the truth. If it weren’t for the fact that the prizewinners show even less intelligence when they do discover the truth, the hosts’ game would have been up long ago. The movie has a twist ending that is fairly predictable for this sort of movie, and then throws another last second twist that can only be interpreted as showing that the movie can’t be taken seriously. This may well be why the movie is considered a comedy by some, though it doesn’t play that way for most of its length. Still, there are some interesting moments that brighten this very uneven movie.

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Tender Dracula (1974)

TENDER DRACULA (1974)
aka Tendre Dracula
Article 3437 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-3-2010
Posting Date: 1-11-2011
Directed by Pierre Grunstein
Featuring Peter Cushing, Alida Valli, Bernard Menez
Country: France
What it is: French horror comedy

A noted horror actor wants to stop making horror movies and play romantic leads. Two screenwriters and two actresses are sent to his castle to convince him to move back into horror.

There’s something about the offbeat premise of this movie that makes me want to like it. However, the movie fights me at every step of the way. Some of it may not be the movie’s fault; my copy is in fairly dismal shape, the running time is short about 14 minutes, and the English dubbing isn’t very good. But I think the real culprit lies in the fact that the movie is edited in this rather herky-jerky style which is immensely disorientating, and it leaves me feeling queasy rather than amused. It’s somewhat similar to being on a carnival ride which you can’t enjoy because the attendant has put your safety straps on too tightly and all you notice is the discomfort. Though the movie has a clear center (the horror vs. romance theme), it’s sometimes nearly impossible to tell what many of the surrounding scenes have to do with this theme, and for a comedy, I found it laughless. I think Cushing is giving a good performance, but in this mess it’s hard to appreciate. This movie is pretty obscure, and from what I can tell, it is deservedly so.

A Trip to Mars (1910)

A TRIP TO MARS (1910)
Article 3373 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-26-2010
Posting Date: 11-8-2010
Directed by Ashley Miller
Cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Melies-like science fiction

After inventing an anti-gravity powder, a man uses it on himself to propel himself to Mars.

This movie was an early addition to my hunt list, and for the longest time not only could I not find it, but it didn’t even have a listing on IMDB. They added one just about the time I gave up on it and consigned it to my Lost list, but a copy finally became available. This is one that didn’t turn out to be a disappointment; it’s actually quite cleverly done, and works well enough on its own that it transcends being just mock Melies. Some of the special effects are quite impressive, particularly when the traveler interacts with some of Mars’s giant denizens. The movie runs just under five minutes.

Tarzan’s Savage Fury (1952)

TARZAN’S SAVAGE FURY (1952)
Article 3368 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-21-2010
Posting Date: 11-3-2010
Directed by Cy Endfield
Featuring Lex Barker, Dorothy Hart, Patric Knowles
Country: USA
What it is: Tarzan movie

A cousin of Tarzan’s is murdered by a spy. The spy gets an accomplice to impersonate the murdered cousin in order to fool Tarzan to lead them to the tribe of the Wazuris… and their supply of diamonds.

Nice title, huh? Still, if anyone really wants to see Tarzan’s savage fury (the emotion) rather than TARZAN’S SAVAGE FURY (the movie), they’d be better off checking out some of the precode Tarzan movies. Besides, any Tarzan movie that opens with Tarzan finding a substitute for the departed Boy is bound to be one of the more domesticated ones. Overall, it’s a so-so Tarzan movie with some good scenes (the scene where the natives kill crocodiles by using children as bait is a little shocking, and the scene where we first encounter the Wazuri is effectively handled) and some silly scenes (Cheta on the radio set with the pilots). As usual, the fantastic content is the mild fantasy element of the whole Tarzan mythos, though the Wazuri’s witch doctor appears to have some real magical powers when his magic is used to figure out the plot of the spy. There’s a fair amount of animal footage in this one as well. With this movie, I finish off the Lex Barker Tarzan movies.

To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976)
Article 3326 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-6-2010
Posting Date: 9-22-2010
Directed by Peter Sykes
Featuring Richard Widmark, Christopher Lee, Honor Blackmon
Country: UK / West Germany
What it is: Devil worship story

An occult writer takes over the care of the daughter of a repentant Satanist in the hopes that the information he learns will make for a great book. Unfortunately, he finds himself in over his head when the Satanists turn out to be very serious and very dangerous, and he must come up to speed very quickly if he hopes to save her life… and the world.

This was Hammer’s swan song, and based on its rating on IMDB, I’m guessing it isn’t a particular favorite. Nevertheless, for the most part I like it. The story is confusing for the first half of the movie, but it does come together at about the halfway point. Both Christopher Lee and Richard Widmark give excellent performances, though it takes some getting used to Widmark’s distinctly American accent in this context. Oddly enough, it doesn’t feel like a Hammer film, though it is interesting to speculate what the studio’s product would have been like if this had not been their last production. It’s biggest problem is a very weak ending, which apparently was not the original one in the script; the original ending was shot, but none of the footage survives. I find it rather hard to believe that Olivia Newton-John was also in consideration for the role played by Nastassja Kinski here. All in all, I found the movie quite interesting, and sometimes quite grotesque.

Theatre of Death (1967)

THEATRE OF DEATH (1967)
Article 3325 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-5-2010
Posting Date: 9-21-2010
Directed by Samuel Gallu
Featuring Christopher Lee, Julian Glover, Lelia Goldoni
Country: UK
What it is: Horror / Mystery

A series of vampire-style murders is plaguing Paris. The murders are somehow connected with a Grand Guignol-style theatre known as the Theatre of Death.

I watched the beginning of this movie many years ago when it popped up on late night TV, but lost interest very quickly. It was interesting to compare my memories of that attempted viewing with my observations on this viewing. Back then, I thought the movie looked cheap and chintzy, but I’m willing to bet that was more due to a poor print; this one looks very nice indeed, and I like the use in color particularly. The movie has several interesting moments, some of which are creatively photographed; there’s no doubt that some skill went into the direction, editing and cinematography here, and the acting is quite solid. The story also has some interesting twists and revelations. Yet, for some reason, the movie is mostly dull; it never really builds up much story momentum, and the events seem distant and uninvolving. As a result, my interest remained muted during the viewing. I wish I could pinpoint exactly where and how the movie loses my interest, but I didn’t sense one iota of real suspense during my viewing. It’s a pity; this one could have been much better.

Tarzak Against the Leopards Men (1964)

TARZAK AGAINST THE LEOPARDS MEN (1964)
aka Tarzak conro gli uomini leopardo, Ape Man of the Jungle
Article 3307 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-18-2010
Posting Date: 9-3-2010
Directed by Carlo Veo
Featuring Ralph Hudson, Rita Klein, Nuccia Cardinali
Country: Italy
What it is: Italian Tarzan clone

Zoltak must save explorers from a tribe of Leopard Men, who have given up their peaceful ways and turned to war.

No, my hand didn’t slip when I was typing the title of this one; the onscreen title is indeed TARZAK AGAINST THE LEOPARDS MEN. This makes me wonder if English was not the primary language of whoever wrote the title. Furthermore, whoever came up with the title wasn’t in sync with those doing the translation for the dubbing, for these people changed the main character’s name from Tarzak to Zoltak, probably to deemphasize the obvious fact that this movie is a Tarzan clone. The movie is so-so, but I found it more interesting to compare how this movie differs from the American Tarzan movies. For one thing, Zoltak here as Hercules-style strength, which increases slightly the fantastic content of the jungle tale. The movie has little in the way of animal footage, and Zoltak is not shown having any particular rapport with them. We also have a scene of the grateful white men coming to the rescue of the beleaguered Zoltak, something that I’ve not seen before. Most striking, though, is the ending, where the heroes seem to show more coldness and brutality than we’re used to; just consider the scene where one of the villains falls into quicksand and calls to one of the heroes for help. All in all, it proved to be an interesting viewing experience.