Yeti – il gigante del 20. secolo (1977)

aka Yeti: The Giant of the 20th Century
Article 3189 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-8-2010
Posting Date: 5-8-2010
Directed by Gianfranco Parolini
Featuring Antonella Interlenghi, Mimmo Craig, Jim Sullivan
Country: Italy
What it is: Italian attempt at KING KONG

A giant yeti is discovered entombed in a block of ice.

The worst Yeti movie? Not as long as prints of THE SNOW CREATURE can still be found. At least this one is endearingly goofy; some of the sillier scenes involve the Yeti combing the hair of the human woman he loves with the bones of a giant fish, his playing with an elevator like a yoyo, his strangulation of a man with his toes, his being framed for the murder of a scientist while suffering from pneumonia, and his revival scene, which for some reason requires that he be encased in his own private phone booth and suspended in the air by a helicopter. For such a big guy he seems pretty good at sneaking up on people, and at least it doesn’t slavishly follow the plot of its model, KING KONG. The movie’s most annoying element is its overbearing sentimentality, especially those involving a mute boy and his dog. The ending makes you wonder if they were planning a sequel.

Yellow Submarine (1968)

Article 3173 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-20-2010
Posting Date: 4-22-2010
Directed by George Dunning
Featuring the voices of The Beatles, Paul Angelis, John Clive
Country: UK / USA
What it is: Musical psychedelic adventure movie

When Pepperland is invaded by the music-hating Blue Meanies, one man escapes to call on the Beatles to help them rid Pepperland of the menace.

Director George Dunning had previously produced the animated TV series “The Beatles”, a show that was not a favorite of the group itself. Probably as a result, the group wasn’t initially thrilled with this project, and though they contributed four songs (none of which proved to be hits), they largely saw it as a way to fulfill their movie contract with United Artists, and didn’t even voice their own characters. However, they were so impressed with the results that they agreed to appear in a filmed epilogue in which they lead the audience in a sing-along of “All Together Now”.

When looking at the credits, I was surprised not to see the name of Peter Max, whose work was extremely similar to the visual style of this movie; it was Heinz Edelmann who was responsible for the wild psychedelic look of the movie. The plot is pretty standard stuff; the basic adventure story format is the type of thing that would work for your average sword-and-sandal movie. But then, the movie isn’t really about the plot; it’s about the music and the visuals. It’s fascinating to watch, though it does go on a bit too long. The movie is full of references, including ones to FRANKENSTEIN and KING KONG, as well as numerous ones to the Beatles themselves. The animation is on the limited side, but it would prove to be influential on the work of Terry Gilliam.

Ypotron (1966)

YPOTRON (1966)
aka Agente Logan – missione Ypotron
Article 2881 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-28-2009
Posting Date: 7-3-2009
Directed by Giorgio Stegani
Featuring Luis Davila, Gaia Germani, Alfredo Mayo
Country: Italy / Spain / France

A secret agent attempts to locate a kidnapped scientist.

Here we have some more Eurostyle faux James Bond shenanigans, with a spy named Lemmy Logan (I assume Lemmy is short for some other name, but for the life of me I can’t imagine what), a kidnapped scientist, a secret project (or is it two? I hear references to both Ypotron and Gemini), beautiful women, lots of action scenes, and gadgetry that pushes it in the realm of science fiction, though the secrets of the project give the movie a bit more in the way of fantastic content. Since I’m not in on the James Bond craze, the primary appeal I get from some of these foreign knock-offs is the charm of seeing low-budget attempts to ape the genre. This kind of appeal blows hot and cold, though, and though this is probably a relatively solid attempt at this kind of movie, I found myself a little bored by the lack of surprises; for one thing, I was totally unsurprised by the final twist. There is the odd scene here and there that I like, though; I’m especially fond of a scene where the spies manage to get into a hotel safe by playing practical jokes on the hotel clerk.

You Only Live Twice (1967)

Article 2236 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-30-2007
Posting Date: 9-26-2007
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Featuring Sean Connery, Akiki Wakabayashi, Mie Hama

James Bond is assigned to discover the culprits behind the kidnapping of astronauts in flight before the United States and the U.S.S.R. go to war. His investigation takes him to an island near Japan.

Though I’m not a particular James Bond fan, I do have a sense as to which of the movies work better than the others. This was the fifth in the series, and Sean Connery would depart the series after this one only to return with DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, and later in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (though the latter is strictly not part of the series). It’s entertaining enough, but I can tell it’s not up to the others I’ve seen in the series. Part of the problem is that the array of heroes and villains he meets in this one are simply not a memorable lot; even Blofeld disappoints somewhat, despite the fact that he’s played by the great Donald Pleasence. The other problem is that this is the first one I’ve seen that really feels like it was made to a formula; all of the other ones I’ve seen had their special strengths and unique touches, but this one feels somewhat routine. This is a bit of shame; after having seen FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, I was finding myself warming up a bit more to the whole series. At any rate, it really makes me appreciate the freshness of the other ones I’ve seen. Still, the series would definitely have weaker entries than this one.


Yambao (1957)

YAMBAO (1957)
Article 2008 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-13-2006
Posting Date: 2-10-2007
Directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna
Featuring Ninon Sevilla, Ramon Gay, Rosa Elena Durgel

A young native woman in Cuba in 1850 finds herself attracted to a the owner of a sugar plantation, and she is tempted into using voodoo to win him from his wife.

The plot above is a bit of an approximation, as this is another Mexican movie, undubbed and unsubtitled. This one is somewhat reminiscent of those all-black horror movies of the thirties, such as THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER. It’s a compendium of voodoo and soap opera, and horror fans may be disappointed that the soap opera seems to dominate for most of the movie. However, the movie is also a musical, and it is here that the movie really gains its power; the native music, singing and dancing is simply enthralling, and it permeates the movie in much the same way that music drives BLACK ORPHEUS. It was the music that finally won me over here, and I was somewhat surprised to see the movie sitting with a lowly 1.8 rating on IMDB, but that’s with only six votes, and two of those gave it the highest rating. This makes me wonder if there is a dubbed version around, and if in the dubbed version, the music was redubbed as well; if so, such an act most likely would have destroyed the movie’s greatest appeal. I’m glad I saw this one in its original language, and it makes me glad that we’re just starting to see some of these Mexican movies released subtitled and dubbed; the more I see of them, the more I’m convinced that some very strong movies came from there.


Yongary Monster of the Deep (1967)

Article #1655 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-25-2005
Posting Date: 2-22-2006
Directed by Ki-duk Kim
Featuring Yeong-il Oh, Jeong-im Nam, Sun-jea Lee

Korea is threatened by a giant monster that drinks gasoline.

When people complain how the Godzilla movies have bad special effects, I point them to the Gamera movies (of the sixties, that is). When they complain that the Gamera movies have bad special effects, I point them to the Korean giant monster movies. When they complain that the Korean giant monster movies have bad special effects, I agree.

So here we have a Korean attempt at a kaiju, and it looks like they threw a number of giant monster movies into a blender, and then assembled what came out into a movie. Yongary is characterless clone of Godzilla with a few touches of Gamera thrown into the mix. The dubbing is awful, the miniatures are frightfully bad, and the soundtrack is ineffective. Somehow, it manages to have this dreamlike, surreal quality that detaches you from the action, and though this does give the movie a little bit of flavor, it also threatens to lull you into a deep slumber. Still, the movie is in better shape when it tries to copy other movies than when it makes attempts toward originality; the scenes where the monster boogies to a rock and roll tune and where he goes into a big scratching fit rank with some of the most ridiculous scenes I’ve ever seen.

I will say this, though; it’s better than A*P*E.

The Yellow Cab Man (1950)

Article #1586 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-18-2005
Posting Date: 12-15-2005
Directed by Jack Donohue
Featuring Red Skelton, Gloria DeHaven, Walter Slezak

An accident-prone inventor tries to demonstrate his new unbreakable elastiglass to a cab company, but finds himself beset by industrial spies who want the formula for themselves.

Red Skelton is often referred to as a great clown, and I have no trouble with this assessment as long as the word “clown” is understood to refer to a practitioner of a very specific type of comic discipline. Red Skelton’s use of comic pratfalls and expressions is very much the stuff of clowns, but I find clowns only mildly amusing, and as a result, despite the fact that I have a certain nostalgia for him (his TV show was a mainstay in my house when I was young), I don’t quite put him in the front row of the great comedians as I would W. C. Fields. Still, I really liked this movie a lot, largely because it aspires to a certain type of Fieldsian lunacy and surrealism at time, and also because Skelton shares the screen with a number of truly enjoyable character actors. James Gleason, Jay C. Flippen, Edward Arnold and Walter Slezak are all on hand here, and they all have wonderful parts and great moments. At least one sequence is truly great; an attempt by novice cabbie Skelton to pick up his first cab fare results in a twisted series of events that leads to perceptions of both a bomb scare and a kidnapping. And some of the dream sequences are really strange; in one he finds himself at the North Pole talking to Walter Slezak in a walrus costume, and in another he has nightmare visions of all sorts of motor vehicles and pedestrians warped out of proportion (thanks to trick photography). In fact, the set pieces show a real inventiveness throughout this movie, and this adds a lot to the proceedings. I haven’t seen a lot of Skelton’s cinematic work so far, but from what I’ve seen so far, this is the best.