Tuesday, October 28, 2014

East Side Kids (1940)

An American crime drama directed by Robert F. Hill.
A young gang member's brother is in jail and sentenced to be executed for a crime that he did not commit. A cop tries to put together a club to keep kids off the street and real gangsters are around running a counterfeit money scheme.
The plot was complex and there were lots of characters. Some of the characters turned out to be lying and had hidden agendas. The pace was quick and the style was very '40s. I think that it was made alright, but I just didn't really like it. I know I've seen gangsters and cops with a boys' club before. I'm rating this o.k. You can make up your own mind whether to watch it or not.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Mansion of Madness A.K.A. Dr. Tarr's Torture Dungeon (1972)

A Mexican exploitation film directed by Juan Lopez Moctezuma.
A British man with a friend, friend's girlfriend and the girlfriend's father go to visit an insane asylum/dungeon in France. As the plot develops, it goes from an asylum with protective guards outside to a place where the inmates do whatever they want to a place that is ruled by the leader of the inmates.
This is the cheap type of shit that tries to be crazy and psychedelic so hard that it fails miserably. The video was all dark and underexposed. The audio was annoying and distorted in most places. If they had even gone to the trouble of checking light and sound levels, it would have been a much better film. The simple plot got lost in a ceaseless barrage of sub-plots and meaningless scenes. The main characters were easy to identify, but difficult to keep track of. The only thing that was done right was female nudity. There were some breasts to be seen, and pointy ones at that. I rate this bad and would advise against viewing it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Broadway Limited (1941)

An American comedic drama directed by Gordon Douglas.
An actress and her manager ask their secretary for a baby to perform a publicity stunt with. The secretary calls her ex who vents about this assignment in a cafe. A man nearby makes a phone call and says that he can help. The actress, manager, secretary and ex-boyfriend board a train with the baby and head for New York City. They then see newspapers declaring that a baby has been kidnapped and the actress meets a friend from school who is now a doctor. The rest of the film gets more complex as the doctor and manager feud over the actress and all of them alternate between trying to get rid of the baby and trying to find it.
Obviously the plot was complicated, but that didn't stop it from being clearly presented.
As I watch these old and unpopular films, I think about the difference between them and newer, more popular films. The difference is unbelievable. 70 years of experience in filmmaking has made the world stupider. We have gone from identifiable characters in clearly presented plots speaking audibly to special effects cluster-fucks in which dialogue cannot be heard and characters, plots and unique style are totally disregarded. I would say that 90% of these old public domain films are technical masterpieces compared to the shitpieces being produced today.
Everything in this film was communicated clearly. The style was a little on the standard side for the time that it was made, but the complex plot and good (yes, GOOD) characters make up for that. The actress gets female anatomy points for her costume in the later part of the film (pictured).
The pacing was a little quick, but very appropriate for the film, as it kept things moving along at a good clip like a train. I rate this good because of plot, characters and clarity. If you value substance and content in a film, this would be one to watch.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Substitute A.K.A. Surogat A.K.A. Ersatz (1961)

A Yugoslavian animation short directed by Dusan Vukotic.
A man goes to the beach and inflates every object, even the pump that he uses to inflate with.
Such style! I had seen this at the end of 9th grade in science class and have been looking for it ever since. The painted background is very nebulous and the "cartoon" style objects are very definite. Traditional anatomy is not considered, as the man is basically a triangle with stick arms and legs. The plot and characters are top-notch according to me. The pacing is very fast, as a whole beach adventure takes place in under 10 minutes.I rate this best. You should definitely check it out if you like weird animation.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Breakfast in Hollywood (1946)

An American musical romantic comedy directed by Harold D. Schuster, starring Hedda Hopper, Andy Russell, Spike Jones and Nat King Cole.
Characters in different scenarios all attend the same radio show. An old woman leaves her dog at home, but has fainting spells on the way there and after the show. A young man gets a ride into Hollywood with the host and meets a young woman at the show. Another man is trying to cheat on his wife and leading on a pair of young women.
This was very old fashioned and sappy. The plot was presented clearly and held my attention, but I thought it was a little on the sit-commy side. The characters were identifiable and interesting. The audio had lots of pops, crackles and dead air hiss (sorry, no snaps). The video was alright and visible. As I said, the style was sit-commish. The pacing was a little too slow for me, with the musical numbers not really doing anything for the story. There was a "colored" jazz band (pictured) who were all very good at their instruments and at this date, they had no way to fake it with a backing track. I'm rating this poor for being antiquated and not liking it. You might want to watch it if you're over 70 years old.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Bees' Buzz (1929)

An American comedy directed by Mack Sennett.
Two men try to stop a wedding. One of them gets bees in his pants.
At only 20 minutes duration, there isn't much to write about. This was mostly physical comedy, although it was a talkie. The production value with audio and video included was not good. There was a cow costume scene, the ending of which included a cartoon tail on a bull. I'm giving it a weird pink rating and announcing that I will no longer review any film under 45 minutes in duration, unless it's just so good that I have to.

Baby Face Morgan (1942)

An American comedy crime film directed by Arthur Dreifuss.
Acall goes out to criminals across the United States. Their leader has died and they need a new boss to keep business running. An innocent and ignorant young man is chosen because of his name and put into a fake office.
The short scenes don't communicate the plot clearly enough. It feels like the viewer is thrown into the middle of something and given no information about what's going on. The plot is (hence) very muddy and style is effected by this film-making choice as well. Because so many short scenes are used, they all show gangsters in different locations and characters can not be established either. I watched about 45 minutes of it and had to turn this off because I still didn't know what was going on. I have to rate it shit for being so confusing that I turned it off.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Angel On My Shoulder (1946)

An American fantasy comedy film directed by Archie Mayo, starring Paul Muni, Anne Baxter and Claude Rains.
A mobster gets out of jail and is killed by a co-worker. He goes to Hell where he makes a deal with the devil so they can get mutual revenge on those who have wronged them. The mobster is put into a judge's body and falls in love with the judge's girlfriend, changing his mind about important moral issues.
This was very well-made and I was definitely amused. The plot was interesting and held my attention. The characters were believable and the actors played their parts convincingly. The production, audio, video and general style were typical of the film's date, but I think that they were quite good for their time. I was especially amused by the dead gangster bossing the devil around and how they worked around not being able to say the word "Hell". I'm rating this good because I just liked it. You may want to check this one out.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Affairs of Cappy Ricks (1937)

An American comedy drama directed by Ralph Staub, starring Walter Brennan and Lyle Talbot.
A sea captain returns home from a voyage to find that his daughter is engaged to the wrong man and his business is in danger. He gathers his family and future in-laws for a voyage on his ship to set things right.
I was about to refer to this film as "Affairs of Crappy Pricks" until I saw who the main character was played by. I can't do that to Stumpy (Rio Bravo 1959)! Suffice to say that I did not like the film, although it may have been technically well-made. The plot and characters were clearly communicated, but I did not like them. The style reminded me of a '50s sit-com. The pacing seemed a little off because it felt long, even though it was only 56 minutes. This may be because I don't like comedy films and didn't find this to be funny in the least bit. The sets were very well designed and the characters were in appropriate costumes. I'm rating this o.k. because it met some of my main criteria, but I didn't like it. You should watch this if you tend to disagree with my evaluations of films.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Wasp Woman A.K.A. The Bee Girl A.K.A. Insect Woman (1959)

An American science fiction directed by Roger Corman.
A scientist who is supposed to be collecting royal jelly from queen bees is found to be taking it from queen wasps and experimenting in using it to reverse aging. He is fired, but goes to the aging beauty queen who runs the cosmetics company (and can no longer pose as the main model there because of her age) and proposes his youth-juice to her. He is re-hired and injects her with the experimental substance. Ain't no secret what happens from there.
The convoluted, but predictable plot was actually presented quite clearly and the characters were identifiable and believable. The audio and video were standard for '59, but shots of the boss later in the film were intentionally under-exposed (probably to hide crappy monster makeup). The pacing was good because the hour and twelve minute duration didn't seem all that long. One thing that I noticed was that the scientist injects a rabbit with the youth serum and turns it into a rat. Although this film satisfies a few of my main criteria, I just didn't like it very much. It may have been a lack of unique style or just the fact that it's old and I've seen far too many old science fiction films. I'm rating it o.k. for being technically sound, but just not liking it. You may want to watch it and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Warning from Space A.K.A. Mysterious Satellite (1956)

A Japanese science fiction directed by Koji Shima.
Aliens come to Earth to warn humans not to use a nuclear super-weapon. WAIT! They came to warn us about a planet that is about to collide with the Earth and we need to use that nuclear super-weapon (for which they have conveniently destroyed the plans) to stop the impending collision.
The plot was muddy and characters hard to keep track of. The production value was terrible, with washed out yellowish video and annoying distorted audio that included a high pitched shrieking screeching sound whenever the aliens were around. Obviously, nothing good can be said for style. Pacing and timing was spot-on, although it counts for very little. I'm going to have to rate this shit because of the raspy, metallic screaming noise generated by the aliens. This film should come with a strong and blatant warning of it's own not to watch it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965)

A Russian American science fiction adventure film directed by Pavel Klushantsevand Curtis Harrington, starring Basil Rathbone.
A team of astronauts with a robot crash on Venus and lose communication with their ship. A team with a car are sent to rescue them. Some women are there as well, but have nothing to do with the male astronauts. A female astronaut waits on the ship that the teams came from, which is orbiting the planet.
This is a weird and mislabeled re-edited set of 2 films, but exemplary of old science fiction flicks. In order to fully understand what's going on, you have to watch both. Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women is longer, busier, more chaotic and more complete. Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet is shorter, sparser, more clear, but less complete. Prehistoric Planet does have scenes that were edited out of Prehistoric Women, so you can't just watch one and call it done. We have spaceships landing on a foreign planet with aliens and a robot involved. It meets all of my stereotypical science fiction requirements. How they treat the foreign planet is absurd. Why are they wearing space suits if opening the helmet doesn't kill them instantly? On top of that, those helmets don't look like they make an airtight seal anyway. In the underwater scene, some of the astronauts are just standing around like they're on land while another can't decide if he's underwater or in a low-gravity environment. Their car/vehicle is a joke. Is it a hovercraft? They fill it with water to submerge it and have to drag the stupid thing around in water which some of them sink and others partially float/swim. The robot announcing that he will throw the men off of him because his feet are in lava didn't make any sense at all. When the astronauts with the robot are tired or run out of oxygen, one of them is ranting about mathematics like it will save his life. The robot opens his helmet, puts a pill in his mouth, splashes water on his face and closes the helmet again. What is this supposed to do to save him? Some things just don't make sense, but these antiquated notions about space exploration are what make the film good. I rate this awesome for being so exemplary of '60 science fiction. This is one that you should watch with someone so you can mock it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Virus (1980)

A Japanese science fiction film directed by Kinji Fukasaku, starring Sonny Chiba, Glenn Ford and Chuck Connors.
A deadly flu virus is developed in a laboratory and illegally sold. When it is released, the majority of the Earth's population is infected. A small group of people congregate in Antarctica. Upon learning that an earthquake is about to set off nuclear weapons, teams are dispatched to disarm the weapons before the earthquake happens.
The plot was apocalyptic and epic in scope, but there were no consistent characters. The style wasn't too bad and the audio and video were of adequate quality. I think that they reached too big on this movie and made it dehumanizing and impersonal. It was all about global events and heads of governments talking out plans in disaster situations. If they had followed a set of characters through this ordeal, it might have been good. As it is, I can't really praise it. I rate this o.k. You might not want to watch it.

Unknown World (1951)

An American adventure film directed by Terry O. Morse.
A team of scientists tries to find an inhabitable location underground in case a nuclear war occurs. The 5 scientists get into a vehicle known as the Cyclotram which can drive, dig and navigate through water.
This wasn't very good, but it didn't hurt to watch. The black and white video was clearly defined and the sound didn't have any major problems. The plot was almost interesting, but the characters showed relatively little depth. It's style reminded me of '50s instructional videos and sitcoms for some odd reason. The underground world discovered by the scientists was of a passable design and the sets looked alright, but not good. I'm rating this o.k. because it's alright if there's nothing else to watch. You may want to watch this if '50s adventure films are your thing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Track of the Moon Beast (1976)

An American science fiction horror directed by Richard Ashe.
A young man is struck by a piece of a meteorite. He experiences headaches and turns into a lizard when the moon is full. While in reptile form, he kills people. He later awakens as a human with no memory of the events.
This should not have been made. The plot is stale and the characters shallow. The pacing is unbearably slow and there is no style to speak of. The bad audio was too loud to the point of distortion and the bad video was sub-par '70s underexposed dark. Music detracted from the value of an already inferior film using cheesy synthesizers. There was a hippy folk song that was stereotypical, but not bad. I believe that they were actually perfoming this musical number, rather than faking to a backing track. That is the only thing in this film that earns any points in the positive direction. This is a bad movie. Do not watch it.

They Came from Beyond Space (1967)

A British science fiction directed by Freddie Francis, starring Robert Hutton and Jennifer Jayne.
A meteor falls to Earth and those who get near it have their minds taken over by aliens. One man is immune due to a metal plate in his head. After much conflict, he kidnaps one of the mind control victims and enlists the help of a friend to stop the aliens.
Very British, dry and pointless. The plot seemed to be going alright initially, but it got bogged down towards the middle and the anticlimactic ending finished the process of plot disintegration. The characters were difficult to keep track of because there were lots of extras and everyone had similar hairstyles and clothing. The sountrack seemed inappropriate with it's jazzy saxophones everywhere and snare drum rolls during action scenes. Obviously, I don't think that the style was good and the pacing was just weird. I rate this poor because it's just more '70s trash. I wouldn't recommend watching it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Wild Women of Wongo (1958)

An American comedy directed by James L. Wolcott.
On a tropical island, there is a tribe with ugly men and beautiful women. Nearby is a tribe with ugly women and handsom men. The tribes meet.
This was insipid banality all the way through. The boring and obvious plot involved stereotypical and shallow characters. It lacked any good style, although the stupid parrot's narration can differentiate it from any other film. The pacing was all wrong, with short scenes for important events and long, drawn out scenes for stupid details. Unfortunately, even the beautiful women earned no female anatomy points. I have to rate it bad because I see no reason for anyone to watch it.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Snow Creature (1954)

An American adventure film produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder.
A botonist and his photographer go on an expedition in the Himalayas and struggle with their native guides for control of the mission. They eventually capture a yeti and return to America. The yeti escapes and the police try to catch it.
Such a lame and stale plot! Trecherous native guide, monster in the sewer, whatever. The characters were as stereotypical as the plot and the style was bland. Not only that, but the monster is never clearly shown. At least the pacing was a little better than the last few shit-flicks. This type of movie doesn't require a long explanation. I rate it bad. You probably shouldn't watch it.

Venus Flytrap A.K.A. The Revenge of Doctor X (1966)

A Japanese American science fiction film directed by Kenneth G. Crane or Norman Thomson , starring James Craig.
A mathematician at NASA is stressed at work and takes a vacation. First he drives in America, where he picks up a venus flytrap plant. He then visits Japan where he gets another carnivorous plant and fuses them together to create a monster.
This may be the worst film I have ever seen. It's not as long as Some Kind of Monster or Ben Hur, but every excrutiating second is painful to watch (except one scene). The main character is an asshole who shouts nearly every line of his poorly delivered dialogue. The plot was boring and the slow pacing made an hour and 33 minutes seem to take forever. The bad audio was too loud and distorted like an old kung fu flick and every time an animal was on screen, it was crying out in distress. The bad video was blurry and grainy, although in color. The only thing that I liked was the topless female diving team. Yes, hidden in the center of this terrible film is a wonderful scene full of female anatomy points. I put the pictures up so you don't have to sit though the painful experience of the film itself to see them. I rate this shit. DO NOT WATCH!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Phantom Planet (1961)

An American science fiction directed by William Marshall.
In the distant and high-tech future (1980), spaceships have been disappearing after reporting that their instruments are malfunctioning. A spaceship is sent to investigate (redundancy?) and ends up landing on a moving planet. The astronaut exits the ship and has adventures with the inhabitants of the planet.
I thought it was cute. Such a hokey old science fiction film about foreign worlds and aliens seems endearing to me. The only thing it was missing was robots. The audio and video were relatively clear for the date. The plot and characters held my interest and the pacing felt right. I think that it was clearly presented and not a bad film at all. I noticed that the bad aliens flew their spaceships in a phallus formation (complete with testes), but I won't hold that against them. I'm keeping it because I'll probably watch it again sometime. I rate it adequate and would recommend it to anyone looking for an old science fiction film.

The Mad Monster (1942)

An American science fiction horror film directed by Sam Newfield.
A mad scientist injects his gardener with wolf blood and turns him into a werewolf. The gardener then goes out and kills people at night as the werewolf, but has no memory of it when he turns back into a human during the day. The scientist tries to prove his success to his old colleagues who have excommunicated him for being a mad scientist.
The production was absolutely prehistoric. Bad audio was crunching at scene changes with tons of whooshing and hissing dead air. Bad video was overexposed and bleached looking on light surfaces, but underexposed and totally black on darks. The plot was simple and should not have taken so long to communicate. The slow pacing made an hour and fifteen minutes seem like eternity. I rate this shit for such bad presentation, even though I watched the whole thing.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Lucifer Complex (1978)

An American science fiction war film directed by Kenneth Hartford and David L. Hewitt.
In the distant future, a man sits in a computer room on an island, watching videos about war. The video that he watches concerns a war in 1986 involving Nazis and clones.
The "film-within-a-film" thing doesn't work so great here. Why must we see the guy watching the movie and narrating? It has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. The plot, by the way, is lame and not very clearly presented (big surprise there). The characters are a little difficult to identify and keep track of, seeing how everyone is wearing the same clothes and there are supposed to be multiple clones of each character. The style, amazingly, was identifiable. It may have something to do with the periodic shots of future man watching the movie with the viewer, but this movie is clearly this movie. Future man says something to a snake that is in the room with him (for no apparent reason) about punching buttons and procedes to flip switches and turn knobs, but punches zero buttons. Just an amusing little side note. I will never watch it again and would not recommend it to anyone because it doesn't make sense. Know what else doesn't make sense? I'm rating it o.k. because it has style.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Killer Shrews (1959)

An American science fiction horror film directed by Ray Kellogg.
A ship lands at an island and the sailors visit a scientist who is experimenting with size changing. He has created vicious dog-sized shrews with a poisonous bite. The people have social drama while escaping from the island.
The social drama amidst survival conflict reminded me of sci-fi channel 1990s and 2000s features. I think that they may have used these old science fiction films as "cut and paste" templates for their modern films. I was amazed that the people came up with a smart solution to the problem of getting them to the boat waiting offshore. The plot was stupid and the characters stereotypical and shallow. The style was standard and genereic. Audio and video standard and generic for the date as well. I did not actually see the screenshot because the "killer shrews" were only shown very briefly to hide the lack of proper special effects. Apparently, they were dogs in costumes and stuffed models shaken vigorously. I would not watch it again. I rate it poor. You probably shouldn't watch it unless you're wondering where the "syfy" channel gets it's source material to make new films out of.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Indestructible Man (1956)

An American science fiction crime film directed and produced by Jack Pollexfen, starring Lon Chaney Jr.
A criminal is executed and his body sold to a scientist for experimentation. The scientist reanimates the corpse and the criminal seeks revenge on his former co-workers for having betrayed him and letting him get caught. The undead criminal is immune to most types of damage and mute due to the procedures of the scientist who reanimated him. A showgirl turns out to be a valuable contact for the police as they try to track down this immortal killer.
I found the plot to be interesting and very clearly presented. The characters were in classic gangster crime/film noir roles, but they worked in this context. Obviously the video was in black and white and the audio was a little treble-biased, but these facts did not detract a great deal from the film. Style was pretty generic and standard for the date, but the pacing felt natural and presented events in a timely fashion. Considering the generic style and absolute mountain of movies I watch, I probably wouldn't watch it again. The clear presentation and general coherence lead me to rate it adequate. I would recommend viewing if you watch lots of movies or are just looking for something slightly better than average to pass the time.