Urutoraman Tiga & Urutoraman Daina: Hikari no hashi no senshi tachi (1998)

Urutoraman Tiga & Urutoraman Daina: Hikari no hoshi no senshi tachi (1998)
Article # 6082 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-14-2023
Directed by Kazuya Kanaka
Featuring Takeshi Tsuruno, Ryo Kinomoto, Toshikazu Fukawa
Country : Japan
What it is: Why you should always carry a spare

Evil space aliens steal Earth technology to create a super-monster who defeats Ultraman Dyna in battle. The aliens seek the eradication of the human race. Can Ultraman Dyna prevail, of will he need the help of another Ultraman?

I don’t think that plot description gives too much away; after all, the title promises two ultramen, and when they both manifest themselves, you know it won’t be just to play Mahjong. This may be a movie version of the Ultraman Dyna series, but it could easily have been a three-episode entry in the series. There are humans under the control of aliens, lots of super-powerful guns, the usual inspirational-poster philosophical layer, and you get some pathos from the near-death of Mai, who played the super-cute radio operator on the series. Those already sold on the series will enjoy this best, but I don’t see this movie version creating much in the way of new converts.


Ultraman Tiga Side Story: Revival of the Ancient Giant (2001)

Ultraman Tiga Side Story: Revival of the Ancient Giant (2001)

Article 6801 by Dave Sindelar

Date: 3-17-2023

Director unknown
Featuring Hiroshi Nagano, Shogo Yamaguchi, Makoto Kamijo
Country : Japan
What it is: Direct to video Ultraman thrills

The son of the original Ultraman Tiga goes through a time warp and ends up in the past, where he helps in the eternal fight between light and darkness.

One sure way to make me think something is going to be chintzy is if it’s direct to video. “Ultraman Tiga” was one of the better entries of the Ultraman franchise, with some very interesting episodes, while this side story feels pretty ordinary. In length it matches to two regular episodes to the series. Still, if you’re an Ultraman fan, this would still pass muster.

Ultraman Zearth 2 (1997)

Ultraman Zearth 2 (1997)

Article 6080 by Dave Sindelar

Date: 2-25-2023

Directed by Kazuya Konaka

Featuring Masaharu Sekiguchi, Takaaki Ishibashi, Noritake KinashiW

Country: Japan

What it is: Ultraman sequel

After a humiliating defeat by a dark Ultraman, Ultraman Zearth’s human identity suffers great despair and loses his self-confidence.  Can he regain it before the dark Ultraman returns?
The sequel ratchets back the overt comedy of the first movie, largely because the central internal battle Zearth must contend with this time is more substantial than the germophobia of the first movie.  Still, there are laughs to be hand here, such as the monster robot added to the MYDO team along with a geeky technology expert.  Overall it comes off a little like an episode from “Ultraman Leo” in that the plot hinges on our hero accomplishing a near impossible task to strengthen his abilities.  Apparently these two movies featured a number of actors from the original series from the sixties and seventies. All in all, it’s amusing enough, though I do see why this one stuck to two movies rather than a whole series.

Ultraman Zearth (1996)

Ultraman Zearth (1996)
aka Urutoraman Zeasu
Article 6079 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-20-2023
Directed by Shinya Nakajima
Featuring Masaharu Sekiguchi, Takaaki Ishibashi, Noritake Kinashi
Country: Japan
What is: Movie version of TV hero

A space alien combines forces with a gold-eating monster to trick Ultraman Zearth into destroying the Earth.

I’ve been on a bit of an Ultraman binge lately, which is actually a pretty big order. Ultraman Zearth never had an actual TV series as such, but he was featured in two movies about the time “Ultraman Tiga” was popular. The movie is really no longer than two episodes of the series, and I was surprised that this one is mostly played for laughs. Our hero appears to be in training; he’s not an official member of whatever iteration of the monster-fighting force this one features, but a trainee, and he seems to have two weaknesses to overcome: bad aim and an obsession with cleanliness. I wouldn’t recommend this one who is trying the series out for the first time; much of the humor is based on what you know about the series. My favorite joke is discovering what the headquarters of the monster-fighting team are.

The Unpopular Mechanic (1936)

The Unpopular Mechanic (1936)
Article 5711 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-30-2020
Directed by Walter Lantz
Featuring the voice of Bernice Hansen
Country: USA
What it is: Animated whimsy

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit creates a machine that can change a person’s personality. He tries it out on the residents of a boarding home.

From my youth, I remember Walter Lantz’s friendly persona when he appeared in episodes of THE WOODY WOODPECKER SHOW. Yet, it must be said that he wasn’t really in the top line of cartoon creators, and the pickings of his oeuvre from before the creation of Woody are pretty slim. This is a pretty dull stretch of cartoon; it’s almost as if it missed every comic opportunity that presented itself, which is pretty sad given that the central premise is pretty good. At any rate, here’s another cartoon that passes into genre territory that I haven’t found listed in any of my guides.

The Underground World (1943)

The Underground World (1943)
Article 5603 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-21-2018
Directed by Seymour Kneitel
Featuring the voices of Bud Collyer, Joan Alexander, Jackson Beck
Country: USA
What it is: Superman short again

Lois Lane and Clark Kent accompany an explorer on a quest to find a lost underground world. However, the quest is perilous, and Superman soon must come to the rescue.

This is the first of the group I’ve been covering recently that wasn’t directed or co-directed by Dave Fleischer himself. Nonetheless, it’s a good entry, especially insofar as it provides a real change of pace from the other entries; it’s much less interested in non-stop action and more interested in picturesque adventure. One might well feel that a story like this needs more length than the eight-minute format will allow, but if you consider that the “lost civilization” type of story is generally a compendium of cliches, you can admire how this one gets through them in such efficient fashion. Still, it doesn’t say much for the intelligence of some of the protagonists that they put themselves in peril by failing to tie up their boat properly.

The Unusual Honeymoon (1912)

The Unusual Honeymoon (1912)
Article 5549 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-3-2018
Directed by James Young
Featuring Charles Edwards, Flora Finch, Rose Tapley
Country: USA
What it is: Tall tale

A Scotsman and his wife set loose in a hot-air balloon at a local fair, and end up stranded on an island with cannibals, which they keep at bay by playing the bagpipes.

This short got on my suggestions list on the strength of a plot point whereby the natives believe the bagpipes are “magic”. This, along with a couple of other points (the presence of cannibals, and the “tall tale” device of keeping the cannibals at bay by throwing snuff at them, causing them to be too busy sneezing to be a threat) make the short marginally fantastic, but only just so. As might be expected, it’s mostly played for laughs. Beyond that, there’s really not a whole lot to this one, and it’s pretty slow to get the story moving; the couple don’t reach the balloon until a third of the way through.

Ugly Duckling (1939)

Article 5359 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-31-2017
Directed by Jack Cutting and Clyde Geronimi
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Fairy tale adaptation

A duck couple is shocked when one of their hatchlings doesn’t look or sound like the others, and soon the little guy is abandoned and left to find his way through the world.

This is Disney plying the whimsy trade here, and though I prefer my cartoons more comical, this has a few moments. My favorites include the reaction of the father and mother ducks to the discovery of the different-looking offspring (let’s just say that domestic bliss is not attained), and the scene where the hatchling thinks he’s found companionship with a decoy duck. There are no talking animals in the usual sense here, which is not to say they don’t communicate; the ducks do have something of a “quack” language that sounds like Donald Duck without recognizable words. That does, however, leave us in a strange position as far as the fantastic content goes; though we can’t quite call them anthropomorphic, the animals are given certain recognizable human emotions, but admittedly, that’s very light as far as fantastic content goes. It’s been a while since I’ve read the original story, but I don’t think this short follows it; the ending is certainly different from how I remember it.

Untamed Mistress (1956)

Article 5204 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-13-2016
Directed by Ron Ormond and Allan Nixon
Featuring Allan Nixon, Jacqueline Fontaine, Byron Keith
Country: USA
What it is: Bungle in the Jungle

A safari tries to locate a tribe of gorillas. They bring along a woman who was raised by the gorillas and then civilized, but will her return to the jungle cause her to revert to her savage ways?

“The Motion Picture Guide” calls it a horror movie, which is how it got onto my hunt list. To its credit, it does have some talk about a cursed shrunken head and a magic talisman, and though that’s slight as far as fantastic content goes, it’s closer than some other jungle movies. IMDB calls it a drama, which accords the movie more dignity than it really merits. I’m calling it as I see it; it’s a Double-Stuffed Safari-O with a heavy exploitation angle (lots of topless women) that ultimately manifests itself as an inadvertent comedy. Jacqueline Fontaine’s appeal has little to do with her acting abilities, and this is a fairly daring movie for 1956. There’s lots of stock footage incorporated into the movie, and some of it is ridiculous; when the men encounter a native dance in the middle of the jungle, the fact that the dance footage features people watching from tiered bleachers in the background makes us realize they were nowhere near a jungle when this was filmed. Yes, it’s really bad, but it’s also quite funny bad, and I will say the ending is pretty novel for this sort of movie. Incidentally, whoever wrote up the cast list for this movie on IMDB engaged in a bit of editorializing; Allan Nixon is billed as playing “Insipid Hero”.

Up From the Depths (1979)

Article 5140 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-26-2016
Directed by Charles B. Griffith
Featuring Sam Bottoms, Susanne Reed, Virgil Frye
Country: USA
What it is: Bottom of the fish barrel

An aquatic man-eating monster threatens people staying at a Hawaiian resort.

There’s a user comment on IMDB from someone claiming to have played a photographer in the movie, and he claims that both the soundtrack and original script were lost at one point, and so the remaining actors tried to redub the movie based on the lip movements on the footage and their memories about what was being said. If this is true, then it goes a long way toward explaining why there seems to be a bizarre and jarring disconnect between action you’re seeing and the words you’re hearing. Granted, even without this problem, this movie would have been fairly weak tea; the special effects are horrid and the humor invariably falls flat. It was directed by Charles B. Griffith, who is most famous for having penned some of Roger Corman’s better movies from the fifties and early sixties. Based on what I see here, he reached his level of incompetence as a director. It almost comes across as a cross between JAWS and CREATURE FROM THE HAUNTED SEA, which Griffith penned, although he apparently didn’t pen the script for this one, which is credited to Alfred M. Sweeney, but given that this movie is his sole screen credit, I smell the faint odor of a nom de plume. There’s a couple of interesting plot elements in the movie, but most of it is an incompetent and incomprehensible mess. The best thing about this one is the poster.