We Shall See (1964)

WE SHALL SEE (1964)
Movie/Episode of EDGAR WALLACE THEATRE

Article 3557 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-18-2011
Posting Date: 5-11-2011
Directed by Quentin Lawrence
Featuring Maurice Kaufmann, Faith Brook, Alec Mango
Country: UK
What it is: Crime drama with horror overtones

A paranoid and possibly psychopathic woman makes life miserable for everyone around her, so much so that they might wish her dead. And it’s known she has an allergy to bee stings…

Apparently, the episodes of EDGAR WALLACE MYSTERY THEATRE were originally second feature movies made in Britain that were repackaged for the series. This is the second I’ve seen, the first being THE MALPAS MYSTERY. It’s not a mystery in the strict sense; the story is mostly focused on the way the woman makes life absolutely miserable for everyone, though it does manage to work up a little sympathy for the woman before it ends. The murder comes very late in the game, with the crime investigation being almost an afterthought near the end of the movie, though it does work up to a very curious and interesting twist. The horror elements include the murder-by-bees plot, as well as the hint of psychopathic behavior on the part of the woman. Nonetheless, it’s a stretch to classify it as horror. Still, it is a fairly entertaining and swiftly moving story.

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School that Couldn’t Scream (1972)

SCHOOL THAT COULDN’T SCREAM (1972)
aka Cosa avete fatto a Solange?, What Have You Done to Solange

Article 3556 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-17-2011
Posting Date: 5-10-2011
Directed by Massimo Dallamano
Featuring Fabio Testi, Cristina Galbo, Karin Baal
Country: Italy / West Germany
What it is: Krimi giallo

A teacher at a Catholic girl’s school is having an affair with one of his students. When a brutal murder is committed, it turns out his lover is having psychic visions that may lead to the identity of the killer. But the killer knows, and will not be stopped…

I went into this expecting the usual Italian giallo experience, but was surprised to see krimi regular Joachin Fuchsberger in the cast. Shortly after this I discovered that the story was based on a novel by Edgar Wallace, making this indeed a cross between the krimi and giallo forms. Stylistically, it’s a lot more similar to a giallo, though it’s actually pretty light on the gore and keeps the heavy stylistic touches in check. Truth to tell, it doesn’t need them; as a mystery, I found it very exciting and gripping. It’s one of those movies that holds up very well when you go back to earlier moments in the story with the knowledge you gain at the end; I particularly liked how the final explanation of the murders dovetails nicely with an early character moment in which the teacher’s lover resists a seduction by him. The movie is full of little telling details like this; in fact, I can’t think of another giallo that did as good a job at keeping me focused on the story as this one did. It’s definitely not for children; the murders, though not explicit, are nasty, and the revelations are very adult. This is an extremely effective merging of genres.

Moonchild (1974)

MOONCHILD (1974)
Article 3555 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-16-2011
Posting Date: 5-9-2011
Directed by Alan Gadney
Featuring Victor Buono, John Carradine, Mark Travis
Country: USA
What it is: Bizarre horror allegory

An art student finds himself at a mission-converted-into-hotel populated by strange people who seem to know his mind. He soon finds he has been drawn into the events of a previous life, where he is on trial for his life from the Inquisition.

I’ve finally found a suitable companion piece to match with MALPERTUIS if I ever wanted to watch a double-feature of pretentious allegorical fantasies masquerading as horror movies (though, to be truthful, I was never really looking for one). The opening credits feature shots of running down a narrow brick corridor as shot by a hand-held camera while a Gregorian chant is intoned over seventies action-movie music, which is as weird as it sounds and actually gives a good idea as to the what is to follow. The movie is addicted to editing, usually at the expense of clarity, and there’s just too many nano-second flashbacks to the previous lifetime. The movie has a rating of 2.0 on IMDB, and director Alan Gadney never made another film, and neither of these facts surprise me; after all, that’s what happens when you try to masquerade art films as horror movies.

Yet, as awful as it is on certain levels, I’m not dismissing it. One rule of thumb I like to use on art movies of this sort is to ask whether it has a sense of humor, and in truth, I did find myself laughing several times, not due to its incompetence but in actual reaction to certain comic ironies. I emerged with the sense that it actual was about something, and that it actually might be worth the effort of digging it out and finding what it is. It’s helped by the fact that the acting is mostly quite good, especially from Victor Buono, who has a way of projecting meaning with everything he says and whose facial reactions can speak volumes. John Carradine has a surprisingly substantial role in this one, and he too is quite good. In fact, the only performance I didn’t like was that of Mark Travis, who plays the student, but, to be perfectly honest, he’s got a near-impossible and awkwardly written role here. In the end, despite all the pretentiousness, I found this a worthwhile movie, and perhaps it even might be more appropriately be paired with THE CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS, another movie I find worthwhile despite its awful reputation.

Hansel and Gretel (1908)

HANSEL AND GRETEL (1908)
Article 3554 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-15-2011
Posting Date: 5-8-2011
Director unknown
Cast unknown
Country: Germany
What it is: Fairy tale

Two children get lost in the woods and encounter a witch who means to eat them.

With a running time of only three minutes, there’s really not a whole lot to say about this early short from Fita-Film. Still, I do admire sometimes how efficiently these early silents can tell familiar stories, and this one does a decent job of hitting the main points of the story and telling it clearly and concisely. It’s not a bad little silent short.

The Feast of Satan (1971)

THE FEAST OF SATAN (1971)
aka Las amantes del diablo, Feast of the Devil
Article 3553 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-14-2011
Posting Date: 5-7-2011
Directed by Jose Maria Elorrieta
Featuring Espartaco Santoni, Krista Nell, Teresa Gimpera
Country: Spain / Italy
What it is: Mild devil worship movie

A woman is discovered in a state of near shock and with her hair turned white overnight. The woman is taken to a hospital, but disappears shortly afterwards. The woman’s sister decides to investigate her fate, and links her with a doctor who seems to have supernatural powers.

I have to admit that I found the first half of this movie rather confusing because several of the female characters had the same hair color and little in the way of differentiating physical traits to help me tell them apart; it’s a bit similar to the problems I have with a lot of B movies where all the males where identical suits and hats, and I always swore that if I ever directed a film, I would take special care to make sure that each member of my cast looked different enough from each other so that I wouldn’t cause viewers the same problem. Nevertheless, there were things about this movie that I quite liked; despite the fact that it was dealing with very similar and familiar situations (I don’t know how many movies I’ve seen where someone strikes out on their own to find out what happened to a relative only to run the risk of suffering the same fate), there was some quite interesting character touches that made me hope the movie would really go somewhere different. Unfortunately, the movie never really picks up a good head of steam, and the climax is surprisingly dull. In the end, it’s a movie that promises a lot more horror than it ever delivers.

The Wailing (1981)

THE WAILING (1981)
aka Fear, Murder obsession(Follia omicida)
Article 3552 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-13-2011
Posting Date: 5-6-2011
Directed by Riccardo Freda
Featuring Stefano Patrizi, Martine Brochard, Henri Garcin
Country: Italy / France
What it is: A bit of a hodgepodge

An actor returns home to his mother for a visit. He is believed to have killed his father when he was in a trance, but he doesn’t remember it. He brings his girlfriend with him, and other friends of is show up. And then the murders start up…

There’s a lot of what you’d expect from an Italian horror movie of the period; there’s several nude scenes, hints of an incestuous relationship, some gory murders, and a mansion full of creepy rooms. The first half is rather dull, as it largely sets up one of those “psycho killers on the loose” plots, but the second half overloads this plot with other touches, throwing psychic powers, black magic, a RASHOMON-like “what really happened when the father died” subplot, and a bit of giallo into the mix. As such, the movie has a certain curiosity value, but it’s not particularly well done, and the extraneous and unnecessary plot elements make it come across as rather silly. It’s not awful, but it’s nothing to write home about either.

Marie Chantal contre Dr. Kha (1965)

MARIE CHANTAL CONTRE DR. KHA (1965)
aka Marie Chantal vs. Dr. Kha, The Blue Panther
Article 3551 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-12-2011
Posting Date: 5-5-2011
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Featuring Marie Laforet, Francisco Rabal, Serge Reggiani
Country: Spain / France / Italy / Morocco
What it is: Spy comedy/thriller

An adventuress/sportswoman comes into possession of a brooch called the Blue Panther, and finds herself targeted by spies intent on getting their hands on the item.

I found this one was described as something of a James Bond style spy thriller, though the description doesn’t quite fit. This is not to say that it doesn’t borrow somewhat from those movies; we have a supervillain, eccentric henchmen (my favorite is the Russian spy who takes orders from his preteen child), and a certain amount of gadgetry on hand. But the central element – a superspy hero – is not present; Marie Chantal is not a spy, but just a woman who has gotten caught up in the espionage. Furthermore, the tone is markedly different from what we’d expect in a Bond film; in fact, if this movie is aiming for anything in particular, I think it’s charm, and for what it’s worth, it does have that, for I find the movie quite charming. This is not to say that the movie is totally successful; it’s a little too murky around the edges, and it’s not quite satisfying, especially near the ending, when the escape from the fortress of the supervillain occurs with far too much ease. Still, I really like Akim Tamiroff’s supervillain, Dr. Kha, a man of such sharp intelligence that he can predict what people are going to do. The reason he is foiled by Marie Chantal is because she is unpredictable. As heroine and villain, they’re a good match, and I actually feel kind of sad the that the sequel it sets itself up for at the end never materialized.