The Werewolf and the Yeti (1975)

THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI (1975)
aka La maldicion de la bestia, Night of the Howling Beast
Article 3828 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-27-2012
Posting Date: 2-6-2012
Directed by Miguel Iglesias
Featuring Paul Naschy, Mercedes Molina, Silvia Solar
Country: Spain
What it is: Werewolf/Yeti action

An explorer on an expedition to find the Yeti is bitten by a werewolf and becomes one himself. Can he find a cure to his condition?

The film opens with the Yeti attacking an exploratory party. The Yeti turns out to be a large creature with black fur and white fangs. This is all well and good, I suppose, but I did find myself asking whether this was the Yeti or the Werewolf, who also has black fur and white fangs. The context of the story helped me find the answer, but the point I’m making is – wouldn’t it have been more interesting to pair up a couple of monsters that looked different?

Still, the movie ended up pretty much what I expected; it’s another of Paul Naschy’s “El Hombre Lobo” movies, and it has Naschy once again in the role of hero/monster. There’s also some torture, sex, sadism and nudity, plus all these beautiful women who want to sleep with Naschy. There’s some bandits and evil sorceresses to add to the usual Naschy monster mash mix. Those who know and like Naschy’s movies will probably be quite happy with this one; there’s little in the way of surprises. Perhaps the most interesting thing to me about it was the neat way the movie makes use of the Tibetan setting to dovetail it with a similar plot device from WEREWOLF OF LONDON, indicating that Naschy knows a bit of cinematic werewolf history.

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Where Has Poor Mickey Gone? (1964)

WHERE HAS POOR MICKEY GONE? (1964)
Article 3827 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-26-2012
Posting Date: 2-5-2012
Directed by Gerry Levy
Featuring Warren Mitchell, John Malcolm, Ray Armstrong
Country: UK
What it is: An eerie tale

A gang of hooligans break into a magician’s shop and terrorize the owner. When they force him to give a magic performance, they discover that he may be more than he seems…

This movie has only a 4.9 rating on IMDB. I’m not sure why, but one other fact may explain it. My copy only ran about 35 minutes, a good deal shorter than the given running time of 59 minutes. The plot description on IMDB says that the hooligans are ejected from a nightclub, and there are several members in the cast list playing people in the nightclub. My print picks up with the hooligans out on the street, which I suspect comes after the nightclub scene. I’m wondering if that scene turned out to be long and unnecessary; as far as I”m concerned, I saw everything I needed in order to understand the characters and the situation, and its 35 minute running time was brisk and to the point. So maybe this edited version is stronger than the full one. At any rate, in its present shape, it’s like a slightly long episode of “The Twilight Zone”, well acted, fun and rather eerie.

World of Horror (1968)

WORLD OF HORROR (1968)
aka Swiat Grozy
Article 3780 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-8-2011
Posting Date: 12-20-2011
Directed by Witold Leseiwicz, Czeslaw Petelski, Ewa Petelska
Country: Poland
What it is: Anthology

Three tales from the world of horror are told. They are “Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime”, “A Terribly Strange Bed”, and “The Canterville Ghost”.

Adventures in Moviehunting: When this movie first entered my list via the John Stanley book, there was no accompanying entry on IMDB, usually a sign that the likelihood of me ever seeing it is slight. However, I periodically go through my hunt lists and double check movies like this to see if any new information has been added. When I encountered this title during one of those checks, I decided to check the title against CITWF, which often has entries for films not listed on IMDB. Sure enough, I found it listed, with the alternate Polish title of SWIAT GROZY. Though I still couldn’t find this title on IMDB, I made a check of one of the directors’ names, and I noticed that there was TV short entitled DUCH Z CANTERVILLE from the same year. Knowing I was on too something, I did manage to locate all three shorts on IMDB. A check on one of my sources quickly revealed that all three were available, and so here I am with my review.

Technically, I’m bending the rules a little not watching the version that was edited together, but it’s not the first time I’ve done it, and research reveals that probably no more was done than to change the credits sequences. Furthermore, I was fortunate that two of the shorts did come with English subtitles; only LORD ARTHUR SAVILE’S CRIME left me high and dry, as I don’t remember having read the original story (or the original stories for the other two either). Still, even with that problem, all three were very entertaining; I’ve long held that even if you don’t understand the language, you can sometimes recognize good acting and superior production, and this one has both. I suspect the first story has to do with the murder of an old lady and its potential for discovery by a palm reader. I’m not going to say much about A TERRIBLY STRANGE BED other than that if it’s true to the original story, William Castle was probably familiar with it. As for the final story, it was in many ways very different from the Charles Laughton movie version, and I suspect this one is probably closer to the original source; it just feels more like the work of Oscar Wilde. This one is very amusing, as it deals with an ancient ghost’s frustrations at trying to scare off some stubborn Americans who not only don’t believe in him, but aren’t scared of him when they encounter him. All in all, this one was quite enjoyable.

Who’s Guilty? (1945)

WHO’S GUILTY? (1945)
Serial

Article 3670 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-17-2011
Posting Date: 9-1-2011
Directed by Howard Bretherton and Wallace Grissell
Featuring Robert Kent, Amelita Ward, Tim Ryan
Country: USA
What it is: Whodunit serial

When a rich businessman is murdered in a car accident, an investigator tries to sort out the responsible party from among the businessman’s prospective heirs.

A little while ago I thought I was done with serials, but such is not the case, it looks like; this one popped up in a different source, so here I am covering it. This one, rather than being the usual action type of serial, is a whodunit, sort of like an “old dark house” serial. However, no self-respecting serial would spend its whole running time in one place, so as soon as possible, people are slipping out of the house and going to places like Mexico so that the investigator can follow them and get into cliffhangers. From a story perspective, most of the middle episodes can be safely skipped. As for the mystery itself, I’ll just say that I noticed one detail in the opening scene that gave me the clue to figure out what was really going on, and by the final episode, I knew I was correct. Overall, the serial is rather humdrum, and doesn’t really make good use of the novelty of it being a mystery serial. At least one good thing I can say about it is that the comic relief character isn’t annoying; on the down side, he’s not particularly funny either.

Wired to Kill (1986)

WIRED TO KILL (1986)
Article 3631 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-9-2011
Posting Date: 7-24-2011
Directed by Francis Schaeffer
Featuring Emily Longstreth, Devin Hoelscher, Merritt Butrick
Country: USA
What it is: Post-apocalyptic actioner

It’s after the apocalypse. A young man’s family is assaulted by a gang of subhuman thugs; they break his legs, and kill or cripple the rest of his family. When the law proves helpless to protect them, he takes the law into his own hands with the help of a female friend and his self-designed robot.

John Stanley’s movie guide gives the movie some points for being a post-apocalyptic movie that doesn’t play out like a clone of THE ROAD WARRIOR. But then, I don’t think it makes hardly any use of any post-apocalyptic ideas; civilization apparently hasn’t broken down (there are functioning hospitals and policemen about), no one seems to be starving, etc. The basic premise isn’t particularly original, either; it’s a typical revenge action flick at heart that sadistically panders to the lowest common denominator. With the exception of the Shakespeare-quoting leader, the thugs are subhuman, and they’re all depraved and hateful. Furthermore, despite wearing dirty ragged clothes and squatting on deserted property, they have access to high-priced lawyers who can keep them out on the streets, drugs, and huge vehicles which they can drive around on their raids of terror. They’re made this hateful so the filmmakers have an excuse to allow our “heroes” to engage in acts of revenge and self-defense that are equally sadistic, such as rigging motorcycle seats to have huge knives pop out of them. And then there’s the cute little remote-control robot that helps them out by blowing away some of the thugs. Movies that are this pandering can’t help but work a little, but they also leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth, and the fact that the world they live in seems rather unbelievable, I find it impossible to recommend this one. There is one clever little touch in this future world, though; public service announcements seem to have taken over the world, so no matter where you are, you’ll be inundated with messages about how you can sue your doctor, save money on family planning, etc.; it’s the closest this movie ever comes to having a sense of humor.

Wicked, Wicked (1973)

WICKED, WICKED (1973)
Article 3630 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-8-2011
Posting Date: 7-23-2011
Directed by Richard L. Bare
Featuring David Bailey, Tiffany Bolling, Randolph Roberts
Country: USA
What it is: Psycho killer movie with a gimmick

A handyman at a hotel has been killing blondes and hiding their bodies, but the hotel detective begins to suspect there is something afoot, and begins to investigate.

To some extent, I’m lumping this movie in with DEAFULA and INCUBUS, though not due to any plot similarities; rather, all three movies feature extensive movie-wide “gimmicks” that more or less take over the films. I use the quotes because in some ways I don’t like the use of that word in this context; the central concepts (a movie shot in sign language, a movie shot in Esperanto, and a movie filmed almost entirely in split-screen) go beyond mere gimmickry. The split-screen process here (known as Duo-Vision) is interesting and occasionally effective; for example, it gives us much of the psycho’s backstory without ever bringing the movie to a halt, and there are moments where it’s really fascinating to see how one character reacts to what another character is doing while being able to see both of them. But there is one drawback with the split-screen approach; it’s not really an easy technique for a viewer to appreciate, as it requires a constant shifting of attention that can be rather tiring over the length of a movie. Furthermore, there are some real script problems; the attempts to establish parallels between this story and that of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA come across as very forced, and when it tries to lighten things up a little and become a “fun” horror movie, the effect is jarring and weird, especially towards the end of the movie. In the end, you have a movie that deserves some credit for trying something different, but it doesn’t really work overall. Incidentally, the movie is not entirely in split-screen, but its full-screen moments are extremely short and usually well thought out, so they end up underscoring the action well.

Women of the Prehistoric Planet (1966)

WOMEN OF THE PREHISTORIC PLANET (1966)
Article 3593 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-30-2011
Posting Date: 6-16-2011
Directed by Arthur C. Pierce
Featuring Wendell Corey, Keith Larsen, John Agar
Country: USA
What it is: Space adventure

The admiral of a space fleet goes against orders by embarking on a rescue mission for a ship under his command that crash-landed on an unexplored planet.

This is one of three movies that are easy to confuse with each other, the other two being VOYAGE TO A PREHISTORIC PLANET and VOYAGE TO THE PLANET OF PREHISTORIC WOMEN. This is the only one of the three that didn’t pillage PLANETA BUR for footage; most of the footage was shot specifically for this movie. To its credit, the movie tries at least a little bit to be about something; the subplots involving the Centaurians does hint at some commentary about prejudice, but if the movie has anything significant to say about the subject, it gets lost in the mix. The bottom-of-the-barrel special effects I can forgive; the dull story, bad dialogue, mostly ineffectual acting, turgid pace, painful comic relief and general hangdog air are what sink this one. Even the title is a cheat; there’s only one woman, and those expecting anything in the way of dinosaur action will have to put up with one easily-killed big lizard. The other two movies may have cobbled their best footage from PLANETA BUR, but at least that footage was interesting. All in all, this one is pretty pathetic.