Reve de singe (1978)

Reve de singe (1978)’
aka Ciao maschio, Bye Bye Monkey
Article 5977 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-16-2021
Directed by Marco Ferreri
Featuring Gerard Depardieu, Marcello Mastroianni, James Coco
Country: Italy / France
What it is: Art film

An employee at a wax museum decides to raise a chimpanzee found in the hand of the corpse of King Kong.

I’m not really sure what the reality of this film is. Is the corpse of King Kong really what it is, or is it a work of art? Is the chimp the son of Kong or just a chimp? There are lots of other ambiguities as well that are never really resolved. Some scenes involve the main character’s work with a feminist theatre, his relationship with the manager of a wax museum dedicated to ancient Rome who has been blackmailed by the government to change the faces of his figures to those of modern politicians, his love affair with an actress, and his friendship with a group of people, one of which is a lonely asthmatic played by Marcello Mastroianni. The French title translates as “The Monkey Dream”, and the Italian title translates as “Goodbye to Macho”. I suspect the true center of the film is caught in the Italian title; it certainly points to an obvious symbolic value to the corpse of King Kong, nor does it indicate a positive fate for the chimpanzee in the film. Nevertheless, I can’t say I really felt satisfied with this one, though I like some of Ferreri’s other works.

Return of the Wolf Man (1957)

Return of the Wolf Man (1957)
Article 5976 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2021
Directed by Donald F. Glut
Featuring Donald F. Glut
Country: USA
What it is: Amateur classic monster mayhem

A thief in a basement accidentally revives Dracula, who then returns to his experiments and revives the Frankenstein monster. Then the Wolf Man shows up. Who will win this monster showdown?

We’re back in amateur movie-making mode with this one; Donald F. Glut was 13 years old when he made this one. It’s fun, like the other amateur films I’ve seen from him, but once again it shouldn’t be compared to a professional production. Which is not to say that no interesting observations can’t be made from doing so; for the record, I found the story here much more coherent than the professional martial arts movie I watched earlier today (RETURN OF THE KUNG FU DRAGON). Still, part of the fun of this one is figuring out how he did his special effects; I do see some creative use of record turntables here, for example.

The Return of the Kung Fu Dragon (1976)

The Return of the Kung Fu Dragon (1976)
aka Ju ma pao
Article 5975 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2021
Directed by Chi-Lien Yu and Kang Yu
Featuring Polly Ling-Feng Shang-Kuan, Chung Chien Li, Sing Chen
Country: Taiwan
What it is: Where choreographers and Foley Artists rule.

The Golden City is taken over by a usurper with the help of a sorcerer. Nineteen years later, descendants of the original generals decide to take the city back.

This is one of those martial arts films that takes place in a fantasy world, thus ensuring it a review here. As for the story line… well, I lost track of it shortly after the opening monologue set up the situation, but I was able to pick up the thread again when the ending monologue explained how the situation was resolved. In between we have the results of an intense collaboration between fight choreographers and the sound effects department. The presence of a female martial arts practitioner as the main hero is the most striking aspect of this one; her cocky attitude and comic bits are the best things about this movie. We also get a strange imp-like character and a sorcerer whose beard is so long he has a personal valet to keep track of it. The rest is pretty much just what you’d expect from this type of movie. So… onward.

Return of the Boogeyman (1994)

Return of the Boogeyman (1994)
Article 5974 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-15-2021
Directed by Deland Nuse and Ulli Lommel
Featuring Kelley Galindo, Suzanna Love, Omar Kaczmarczyk
Country: USA
What it is: If you loved the original, watch it again!

A psychiatrist tries to help a troubled woman who is having dreams that consist of footage from THE BOOGEYMAN.

Apparently, there must be some law that says you can’t make a sequel to THE BOOGEYMAN that doesn’t consist of mostly footage from THE BOOGEYMAN. The new footage is here mostly to set up the old footage from the original movie, only this time providing us with mostly redundant descriptions of the actions taking place before your eyes. It all builds up to an entirely predictable final twist that will only make you shake your head in tired disbelief. In short, there’s no reason for this movie to exist other than to milk a few more bucks from the original. This movie is the biggest waste of time since the first sequel to THE BOOGEYMAN.

The Rainbow Man (1949)

The Rainbow Man (1949)
aka Nijiotoko
Article 5973 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-4-2021
Directed by Kiyohiko Ushihara
Featuring Keiju Kobayashi, Teruko Akatsuki, Katsuko Wakasugi
Country: Japan
What it is: Horror mystery

A dedicated woman reporter comes to the aid of a friend of hers who is under suspicion of murder. It is discovered her family is under a curse; anyone who sees the dreaded Rainbow Man will die a bizarre death.

Since much of the story takes place in a spooky old house and involves a family curse, there is a little horror atmosphere to contend with, even if the fact that it plays out more like a mystery and those little tinglings of deja vu you experience may lead you back to SHE-WOLF OF LONDON. It even has a touch of science fiction in that the plot does involve artificial rainbows. The movie at least realizes that if the visual motif you are relying on is a rainbow, it might be nice to have a bit of color to jazz up a noirish black and white movie. You should be able to figure out on your own one of the plot twists that logically derives from the fact that the identity of the corpse at the beginning of the movie was so disfigured that he could only by identified by the clothes he was wearing. The atmosphere adds to the plus side, but much of the plot unfolds in a rather dull manner and it’s a bit on the slow side. Overall, I found this one a bit disappointing.

Raiding the Raiders (1945)

Raiding the Raiders (1945)
Article 5972 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-4-2021
Directed by Connie Rasinski
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Mighty Mouse cartoon

After the stork arrives, there are several new additions to a family of bunnies. Unfortunately, they become the target of a tribe of hungry vultures. Can Mighty Mouse save the day?

If Standard Issue Mighty Mouse Plot # 1 is has Mighty Mouse saving a bunch of mice from marauding cats of some sort, Standard Issue Mighty Mouse Plot # 2 is pretty much the same except it changes up the species of the oppressed (in this case, bunnies) and/or the species of the oppressor (in this case, vultures). As usual, Mighty Mouse doesn’t appear until the third act of the proceedings, and his defeat of the vultures is almost over before it begins (and for those who feel I’m engaging in spoilers here, did you really think the vultures would prevail?). This would make for another forgettable entry into the series, but the first half of the cartoon is genuinely amusing; I enjoyed the fact that the arrival of the stork (which you would think would be a relatively easy method of child delivery) still requires the presence of the doctor and the boiling of water, and I’m only surprised they didn’t have a scene of the prospective father pacing back and forth until he inadvertently digs a trench in the floor. At any rate, I give the cartoon an extra point or two for this bit, making it one of the better entries in the series.

Q (1982)

Q (1982)
aka The Winged Serpent
Article 5971 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-29-2021
Directed by Larry Cohen
Featuring David Carradine, Michael Moriarty, Candy Clark
Country: USA
What it is: Big Bird gone real bad

A giant winged serpent is snacking on the people of New York City. Where did it come from? And what can be done about it?

It’s a rare thing when the giant monster in a giant monster movie is upstaged by the human story, but that’s how this one plays out. Credit goes to Michael Moriarty; his performance as a small-time crook who tries to parley his knowledge of the monster’s hiding place into a pardon and a fortune is a phenomenal piece of acting. The movie also has a good sense of humor and David Carradine is also outstanding as the police detective who tries to link the monster with a series of ritual murders. The movie has only a lukewarm rating on IMDB, but I found it engaging from beginning to end. This one is recommended.

Puppetmaster (1989)

Puppetmaster (1989)
Article 5970 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-25-2021
Directed by David Schmoelller
Featuring Paul Le Mat, William Hickey, Irene Miracle
Country: USA
What it is: Malicious marionettes

An assortment of psychics show up at a hotel to discover that one of their group has died. The hotel was once the home of a puppeteer who knew how to instill life into his creations. His puppets are still around… and they’re homicidal.

One of my guides suggests that this may be Charles Band’s best movie, and maybe it is; I’m not about to embark on an exploration of his entire oeuvre to find out for myself. I will suggest it was one of his most successful, as it spawned at least sixteen sequels that I know of. By comparing to a few of Band’s other titles that I’ve seen, I’d say this is one of his better efforts; the POV sequences of the puppets running around are entertaining, the puppets are imbued with a nice sense of character, the human villain is suitably creepy, and I do like how this one ends. I do find myself asking why the original puppet master would design some of these puppets, though, especially the one with the drill on top of his head and the leech-spitting woman.

The Prize Guest (1939)

The Prize Guest (1939)
Article 5969 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-21-2021

Directed by Mannie Davis and Connie Rasinski
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Terrytoons

A strange guest who signs his name with a question mark arrives at a hotel. His curious behavior catches the attention of the hotel detective, who vows to keep an eye on him.

The curious behavior includes levitation and having a disappearing dog, which to my mind puts us in a magical/mystical mode and in the territory of the fantastic. Like a lot of other Terrytoons cartoons, it doesn’t quite work; for example, there’s something a bit off in how the hotel detective reacts to things. Still, this is one of their cartoons where the strangeness is intriguing rather than alienating, and I myself grew quite curious as to what the strange guest’s secret would prove to be. And even if I do find that final revelation a bit of a disappointment, I’m not sure I could think of one that would be much better. Nevertheless, this is one of the studio’s more engaging entries.

Pride of the Yard (1954)

Pride of the Yard (1954)
Article 5968 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 4-18-2021
Directed by Eddie Donnelly
Voice cast unknown
Country: USA
What it is: Not Droopy

Two criminals escape from jail. Percival Sleuthhound is put on the case.

Whatever good points can be made about Terrytoons cartoons, it’s usually better for them if they can avoid direct comparison with the output of the other cartoon studios. That will happen if you try to create a new character that is obviously modeled off of a well-known animated star from another studio; Percival Sleuthhound is obviously a rip-off of Droopy. And without someone like Tex Avery at the helm, it’s going to feel like a very tired imitation of its model. I suspect Terrytoons figured that out; as far as I know, this is their only use of the character. For the most part, this cartoon really doesn’t qualify to be reviewed for this series, but one gag involves a rocket to Mars and the momentary appearance of Martians, so here it is. This is one of the most forgettable and unnecessary efforts from Terrytoons.