Two for the Zoo (1941)

Two for the Zoo (1941)
Date: 10-13-2021
Directed by Dave Fleischer and Shamus Culhane
Featuring the voice of Pinto Colvig
Country: USA
What it is: Gabby cartoon

Gabby takes over the delivery of an animal known as a rubberneck kango to the zoo. He is unaware that there are actually two of them; a full-sized adult and her baby.

This cartoon gets by on fantastic content thanks to the existence of the strange anima; it’ something like kangaroo with an elephant’s trunk. But when you consider some of the outrageous creations the Fleischers gave us over the years, this one is a disappointment. But then, I’ve never been a fan of Gabby; he’s more irritating than funny, and his cartoons are fairly mediocre. You’re probably better off with the studio’s other stars at the time, Popeye and Superman.


Tulips Shall Grow (1942)

Tulips Shall Grow (1942)
Article 6006 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-6-2021
Directed by George Pal
Featuring the voices of Rex Ingram and Victor Jory
Country: USA
What it is: Wartime propaganda

A Dutch boy and girl sing and frolic in their tulip-filled windmill wonderland, until…

Don’t be thrown off by the cheery whimsy of the first couple of minutes in this short, because after that, things get quite dark quickly. After all, it was made during WWII and the Nazis had occupied the Netherlands, and the scenes of this little wonderland being destroyed are a bit shocking. The fantastic content consists off how the Nazis are portrayed in this film; instead of using the usual symbols, the attackers are portrayed as inhuman machines; they are called the Screwballs, and their presence adds touches of science fiction to the mix. It’s actually a fairly powerful metaphor that the invaders are defeated by the lightning and rain of a thunderstorm; rain is a life-giving substance for what is living, but rusts and corrodes the metallic intruders. The ending scene is life-affirming. Yes, it may be wartime propaganda, but that’s not necessarily a negative thing when the message is inspirational, as it is here. Very well done.

Tubby the Tuba (1947)

Tubby the Tuba (1947)
Article 6005 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-5-2021
Directed by George Pal
Featuring the voice of Victor Jory
Country: USA
What it is: Puppetoon fable

Tubby the Tuba becomes depressed because the tuba is never given any interesting melodies to play in the orchestra. Can a helpful frog cheer him up and help find a way out of his dilemma?

I’ve covered several of George Pal’s Puppetoons so far, and currently this one is my favorite of the lot. This tale of a tuba trying to find his own voice is perfectly charming, especially as the melody he is taught by the frog is an ideal piece for a tuba solo. The animation is strong, and the characters of the various instruments are interesting. This is one worth catching.

They (1974)

They (1974)
aka Invasion from Inner Earth
Article 5707 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-23-2020
Directed by Bill Rebane
Featuring Paul Bentzen, Debbi Pick, Nick Holt
Country: USA
What it is: Who?

Several campers hide out in their cabin in the woods when something bizarre starts happening throughout the world.

The last twenty minutes of this movie involves a long walk (or should I say incessant wandering) through snow-filled woods. The experience left me feeling tired, bored, cold, slightly nauseated and unfocused and uncertain. And, all in all, that’s an apt metaphor for the whole movie. It reminded me a little of THE DAY MARS INVADED EARTH in the sense that you’re going to get precious little in the way of invasion thrills if you watch this one. Oh, it establishes its premise early on, but then spends the rest of its length meandering around until it reaches its ending, where it degenerates into mystic impenetrability. Even for Bill Rebane this is a bad movie; I found it almost completely devoid of entertainment value. Not recommended on any level.

Time Gallops On (1952)

Time Gallops On (1952)
Article 5705 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-18-2020
Directed by Mannie Davis
Featuring the voice of Arthur Kay
Country: USA
What it is: Cartoon about technological progress

A smithy finds himself becoming obsolescent as cars replace horses, but he decides to bring his job up to the modern age by fashioning a robot horse.

It’s a Terrytoon, and that usually means that it isn’t going to be very good, and in terms of its comedy, I’d have to agree. Yet I do have to say that I liked its thematic center; it’s a cartoon that actually tries to be more than a series of gags by exploring the pitfalls of technological progress, and when the robot horse pops up, it veers into the science fiction genre. Furthermore, I stumbled across this one; as far as I can tell, none of my guides mention it as genre. But then, that’s mostly because the output of Terrytoon has fallen into obscurity. I’m glad I’m able to bring this one to light.

Der Traum des Bildhauers (1907)

Der Traum des Bildhauers (1907)
Article 5648 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 3-12-2019
Directed by Johann Schwarzer
Cast unknown
Country: Austria
What it is: Very early nudie

A sculptor creates three nude female statues, and then dreams they come to life.

When I stumbled across this one on IMDB, I found myself wondering who Johann Swartzer was and why I hadn’t heard of him. I quickly figured out why when I saw the short; it’s obvious that fantastic cinema wasn’t his area of expertise, but the nudie film was. The three statues are naked women standing really still, and that’s the extent of the special effects. Despite the nudity, this short is singularly dull; you know the statues are going to come to life and start moving, but it takes too much time getting around to this moment. Let’s face it; four minutes is a bit too long for the story here (or lack of it); it could have easily been reduced to a minute or less.

There’s Good Boos To-Night (1948)

There’s Good Boos To-Night (1948)
Article 5614 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-28-2018
Directed by Izzy Sparber
Featuring the voices of Frank Gallop, Jack Mercer, Sid Raymond
Country: USA
What is it: Casper again

Casper decides to recycle THE FRIENDLY GHOST.

This is only the second Casper cartoon I’ve covered, and I’m already ready to summarize the basic Casper plot. It’s night, and the other ghosts have gone out to scare people, but Casper wants to make friends rather than scare. His first encounters only result in frightening his targets, and just as he’s about to lose all hope, he encounters someone who isn’t afraid of him. Then, tragedy strikes, and Casper is in danger of losing his newfound friend, but fate steps in and every one lives happily ever after, until the next Casper cartoon and he has to go through it all again. Now that you know that, you don’t have to see another one of these. Well, I’ll throw in two observations. One: given the way this one ends, why didn’t Casper befriend a pre-existing animal ghost in the first place?, and Two: what happened to these earlier friends Casper made? Where are they? Why did they mysteriously vanish? Could they have come to some horrible end? Could Casper have been the one responsible? Could Casper really be a… ahh, nah, I doubt it, but I will admit I had more fun speculating on this than I did watching the cartoon.

A Tale of Two Kitties (1942)

A Tale of Two Kitties (1942)
Article 5611 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-27-2018
Directed by Robert Clampett
Featuring the voices of Mel Blanc and Tedd Pierce
Country: USA
What it is: Tweety cartoon

Tweety must contend with two conniving cats known as Babbitt and Catstello.

Babbitt and Catstello are obvious parodies of Abbott and Costello, and though I’m fans of the original duo, I do find their cartoon counterparts here a bit annoying; they may have appeared in another cartoon, but they didn’t last. Tweety is making his first appearance here, and he would have a long career, mostly paired with Sylvester the cat; some of the best gags in this early cartoon would be recycled when Sylvester came on the scene. The best scene here has Catstello bouncing up to Tweety’s nest on springs, only to suffer a series of painful retributions. The best moment that wasn’t repeated in a later Tweety cartoon shows what happens to the landscape when an anvil falls off of a barn and hits the ground. It’s not a bad starting cartoon for Tweety, but later ones would be better. As for the fantastic content, we’re stuck with only the talking animals and comic exaggeration.

The Traveler (2006)

The Traveler (2006)
Article 5488 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-2-2017
Directed by Jonathan R. Skocik
Featuring Shawn Burke, Jonathan R. Skocik, Melanie D’Alessandro
Country: USA
What it is: Nasty low-budget independent horror

A young couple get trapped in an isolated shack known as “The Death House” with several hikers, and encounter an evil demon who plays a game of torture and murder with them.

Well, it didn’t take me long to contradict myself; I said I probably wasn’t going to cover any of the other entries in the “Tomb of Torture” collection unless I found something striking, and whatever its merits or flaws, this one is. The acting, direction and editing in this one are all competent enough that it didn’t consistently take me out of the action, like many of the other movies on the set. It also helps that there are some interesting ideas in the script. However, this review is primarily a warning; to my mind, this is one of the sickest and most mean-spirited movies I’ve ever seen. The first twenty minutes isn’t too bad; the scenes where the couple get lost driving in the woods is rather entertaining, and the early scenes in the house help build a bit of suspense. However, once the title character shows up and begins torturing the people in the house (both physically and psychologically), the movie becomes a repulsive and sadistic exercise in unpleasantness. It’s a definite example of torture porn, and I certainly can’t recommend it. The movie is also too long, and there are some moments that fall flat, such as when a character figures out the identity of the traveler by using anagrams and the “What Would You Do?” ending. Quite frankly, I felt I needed a shower after this one, though I decided I’m glad I went ahead and reviewed it; by getting it out of the way now, it spares me from having an excuse to watch it again, which I don’t care to do.

Two Guys from Texas (1948)

Article 5440 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-1-2017
Directed by David Butler
Featuring Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Dorothy Malone
Country: USA
What it is: Musical

Two song-and-dance men get stranded on a dude ranch in Texas when their car is stolen. When their car turns up after a robbery, they are arrested. Can they clear themselves?

This unmitigated musical piece of fluff is what it is; it’s probably good enough for people partial to the form, but it’s the antithesis of the type of movie that I envisioned when I started this whole project. I’ve heard it described as something of a “Road” movie, and though I can see the argument, I still think that Morgan and Carson are no Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, and no self-respecting “Road” movie would leave us stranded at the same location for as long as this one does. As for the fantastic content, I suppose I could argue that Carson’s extreme fear of animals is an example of madness, making this a marginal horror movie, but that won’t wash. I could also argue that Carson is most likely a robot, which I base on the sound effects that play anytime he encounters an animal during the first half of the movie, but you’ll see through that. No, the real reason I covered this movie is that it features an animated sequence featuring anthropomorphic lambs and a talking rabbit; specifically, this is the feature-film debut of Bugs Bunny. I do find it ironic, though, that Carson conquers his fear of animals when confronted with a kitten, which remains the only animal during the course of the movie that legitimately tries to attack him.