Thunderbird 6 (1968)

THUNDERBIRD 6 (1968)
Article 2607 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-25-2008
Posting Date: 10-2-2008
Directed by David Lane
Featuring the voices of Keith Alexander, Sylvia Anderson, John Carson
Country: UK

The members of International Rescue are on the maiden voyage of a new airship with anti-gravity gyros. However, unbeknownst to them, the crew of the airship has been replaced with spies intent on setting a trap to capture the members of International Rescue and their vehicles. Meanwhile, Brains has been commissioned with developing a new vehicle for the International Research organization, but his ideas keep being rejected.

My enjoyment of the previous Thunderbird movie (THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO) was somewhat muted by the static presentation and the occasional dull stretches where the movie spent too much time watching the various vehicles move at a snail’s pace. I think this follow-up movie is much better, with a more streamlined and more exciting plot. There’s a good sense of humor here as well; I love the fact that, despite all of the fancy vehicles on display, the one that saves the day is the lowly biplane. Some of the set design is stunning; I love the look of the airship’s game room, and the gravity control room with its rotating gyros proves to be an excellent site for a shootout scene, with characters constantly falling in and out of view between the gyros. Of course, the climactic peril is more than a little absurd, what with the crippled airship balanced precariously on top of a tower; this is the kind of peril I’d expect from a Road Runner cartoon. Still, given that all of the characters are puppets, I’ll just add that to the “suspension of disbelief” pile that’s necessary from the get-go anyway. I saw the final joke coming from a mile away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a satisfying one. All in all, this is pretty damn good for a puppet movie.

 

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A Terrible Night (1896)

A TERRIBLE NIGHT (1896)
Article 2549 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-28-2008
Posting Date: 8-4-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
Cast unknown
Country: France

A man’s rest is interrupted by the appearance of a giant spider.

It’s the first giant bug movie! All right, it’s not in the same league as the big bugs of the fifties, but you still would hate to see this little monstrosity crawling over you while you’re trying to get some rest. This is perhaps the earliest Melies movie I’ve seen, and it’s probably the most primitive special-effects-wise, as the spider seems mostly to be played by a puppet. No story here – just a battle between a man and a spider.

 

The Triple Conjurer and the Living Head (1900)

THE TRIPLE CONJURER AND THE LIVING HEAD (1900)
aka L’Illusioniste double et la tete vivante
Article 2542 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-21-2008
Posting Date: 7-28-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies, Georges Melies, and a special surprise guest appearance by Georges Melies
Country: France

A magician splits himself into two and then produces a living head for our wonderment. Then the devil shows up and ruins everything.

Wait a second – I thought Melies always played the devil in his own movies! How can he be the devil when he’s already on screen? In fact, how can he be the devil when he’s already on the screen twice, for that matter? Wait a second…I think I just answered my question. Short, witty and enjoyable.

 

The Treasures of Satan (1902)

THE TREASURES OF SATAN (1902)
aka Les Tresors de Satan
Article 2537 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-16-2008
Posting Date: 7-23-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies
Country: France

Satan locks up his treasures in a big chest. A thief comes in and tries to steal them, only to discover that the chest has some elaborate safeguards.

If the lesson of IN THE BOGIE MAN’S CAVE was “Be careful what you eat.”, the lesson of this one is “Be careful who you rob.” At least, that’s what I got out of it; the plot description on IMDB from the Star Film Catalog gives a distinctly different take on the proceedings than I got from watching it. Obviously, one of us is wrong, but whoever has it right, you’ve got to beware those chests that spit out spear-carrying beautiful women, and you don’t want to steal any money-bags that hop up and down of their own accord. Best of all, don’t rob anyone who has a solid grounding in the black arts.

 

The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1898)

THE TEMPTATION OF SAINT ANTHONY (1898)
aka La Tentation de Saint-Antoine
Article 2536 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-15-2008
Posting Date: 7-22-2008
Directed by Georges Melies
Featuring Georges Melies
Country: France

Saint Anthony is tempted.

So what tempts Saint Anthony? Well, it appears to be girls; pretty girls who appear out of nowhere and play ring-around-the-rosey with him. Even kissing that skull he keeps under his crucifix is no help; it just turns into another pretty girl. Then, when the figure on the cross turns into a pretty girl as well, all hope seems lost for our hero. But wait – here’s an angel to save him. Well, maybe – if you ask me, that angel also looks like a pretty girl, but our hero acts like he’s saved, so what do I know?

Personally, I find his propensity for kissing skulls to be a lot more disturbing.

 

Toto all’inferno (1954)

TOTO ALL’INFERNO (1954)
aka Toto in Hell
Article 2486 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-24-2008
Posting Date: 6-2-2008
Directed by Camillo Mastrocinque
Featuring Toto, Maria Frau, Fulvia Franco
Country: Italy

Toto has an accident while trying to commit suicide, goes to hell, visits beatniks, marries a Siamese twin, and has other misadventures.

I’ve only encountered the Italian comedian Toto once before, and that was in TOTO NELLA LUNA. I had trouble appreciating that one because it was in unsubtitled Italian; this one has the same obstacle. I’ve heard tell that he’s a fine comic actor, and I have no reason to doubt it; the scenes here that don’t rely on dialogue for humor (especially the opening sequence, during which not a single word is spoken) are very amusing. Nevertheless, I really wish I could follow the plot; I’d love to see how the movie ties together the various threads. The scenes in hell are a lot of visual fun, and they’re in color while the rest of the movie is in black and white, much like THE WIZARD OF OZ (which also features a Toto; in fact, I wonder if that may not be a coincidence). I look forward to seeing a subtitled version some day; this one looks very entertaining.

 

Terror in the Wax Museum (1973)

TERROR IN THE WAX MUSEUM (1973)
Article 2427 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-19-2007
Posting Date: 4-4-2008
Directed by Georg Fenady
Featuring Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester, Maurice Evans

The curator of a wax museum is murdered, and the primary suspect is… the wax figure of Jack the Ripper. Does the figure come to life? Or is there some other explanation…

It’s nice to see an old-fashioned horror-mystery full of familiar old-timers. The cast features Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester, Maurice Evans, John Carradine, Louis Hayward, Patric Knowles, and Broderick Crawford, all of whom have noteworthy credits in the annals of fantastic cinema. It’s a pity the movie is bore; the horror is tepid and the mystery isn’t much better, and the only real pleasure is seeing the familiar faces. Director Georg Fenady would go on to direct ARNOLD, a better movie with a sense of humor and something of a cult following, and which would also feature a wealth of familiar faces, but then he would return exclusively to TV and TV-Movie work. Somehow, this is no surprise; this movie felt more like a TV-Movie than a theatrical release.