Xanadu (1980)

XANADU (1980)
Article 3532 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-22-2011
Posting Date: 4-16-2011
Directed by Robert Greenwald
Featuring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, Michael Beck
Country: USA
What it is: I don’t know, but I hope it’s curable

An artist and a former jazz musician join forces and, with the help of a muse named Kira, open a roller disco nightclub called Xanadu.

First off, I like the Electric Light Orchestra. Second, the movie opens with a fun little riff on the Universal logo of the early thirties that is actually kind of fun. Thirdly, I admire the movie’s love for an earlier era of music, and the scene where a modern rock band and a forties dance band merge into a single entity gets a few points for being audacious. But I’ve never been a fan of Olivia Newton-John, the script (which was being written as the movie was being shot) is vapid, the acting is horrid, and it’s incredibly depressing to see Gene Kelly appearing in such an embarrassment for his final movie. I may like ELO, but they’re working way below par here. The end result is like watching story not worth catching in the first place being interrupted by a series of obnoxious music videos. It’s been claimed that the movie is a remake of DOWN TO EARTH, though that appears coincidental; in fact, DOWN TO EARTH (another movie I loathe) is really starting to look much better to me now.

This movie is about making your dreams come true. Me, I just need something to make the nightmare go away.

Coleridge should sue.


The X-Ray Fiend (1897)

Article 3330 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-10-2010
Posting Date: 9-26-2010
Directed by George Albert Smith
Cast unknown

A man gets fresh with a woman, but they’re both unaware they’re being viewed through x-rays by a passerby with an x-ray machine.

Pretty simple trick film; while the man and the woman interact, the fiend of the title points his x-ray camera at them, and suddenly we see skeletons in their place. The skeletons are played by people in skeleton suits. They appear to be unaware how they look, and I don’t know if the x-ray part of the short has anything to do with the eventual result of the man’s attempt at seduction, but given that the movie is only one minute long, I see no reason to pursue it that much further. It’s a very early trick film by someone other than Melies, and that gives it a certain novelty value in itself.

The X from Outer Space (1967)

Article 2032 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-7-2006
Posting Date: 3-6-2007
Directed by Kazui Nihonmatsu
Featuring Eiji Okada, Toshiya Wazaki, Itoko Harada

A space ship embarks on a trip to Mars to discover why all previous expeditions were destroyed. They encounter a flying saucer, and end up retrieving a substance that grows into a huge monster when taken to earth.

If there was a competition going for the worst of the Kaijus, this one would have its chicken-shaped foot squarely in the ring. The special effects are abysmal, the plot is a mess, the chicken-headed monster with wiggling antennae is goofy, and the score is horrid. The monster’s name is Guilala (not X), and he has the most appalling and repetitive monster theme ever; it consists of pulsating drums and what sounds like two out-of-tune clarinets blaring the same note repeatedly. I also don’t care for the perpetually-out-of-focus flying saucer (which, to my eyes, looks more like a meat pie than a fried egg). Still, I can’t deny there’s a certain campy charm to the whole thing, though I do feel the first half of the movie is an almost total snoozefest. If you’re just getting into kaijus, this is not the place to start.


X (1963)

X (1963)
Article #759 by Dave Sindelar
Date Viewed: 4-13-2003
Date Posted: 9-10-2003
Directed by Roger Corman
Featuring Ray Milland, Diana Van Der Vlis, Harold J. Stone

A doctor experiments with a serum that will increase his range of vision, and it begins to drive him mad.

This is (IMHO) Roger Corman’s masterpiece; personally, I don’t think he’s ever worked with a better script than the one he has here. It’s also blessed with a great performance by Ray Milland, a variety of good performances by a number of familiar faces (you will find Don Rickles, John Hoyt, Dick Miller, Morris Ankrum and John Dierkes all on hand), an array of fascinating characters, and a story that really explores the possibilities of its theme (when this idea is generally used, it almost always focuses merely on the titillating experience of seeing through clothes and little else), but also works double time as a metaphor for drug addiction as well. It also has one of the most unforgettable shock endings in all of fantastic cinema, and if you remember nothing else, the ending will haunt you forever. Special kudos go to Robert Dillon and Ray Russell for the screenplay.

X The Unknown (1957)

Article #146 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 8-9-2001
Posting date: 12-23-2001

A bizarre radioactive creature from the earth’s core breaks through the crust and begins killing people in England. An eccentric scientist is called in to help battle the menace.

This wonderful British thriller was modeled by screenwriter Jimmy Sangster on the Quatermass stories, and I don’t think he could have chosen a better model. It’s strengths are like those of the Quatermass series; there is a strong sense of character throughout, and a sense that the fantastic events are very real indeed comes through. Excellent acting work from Dean Jagger and Leo McKern helps the story along. This is definitely one of the feathers in Hammer’s cap.