Sunday, January 15, 2017

Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)


At the end of World War II, Dr. Frankenstein is working with the Nazis and must pack up his creature's still-beating heart to keep it from falling into the hands of the advancing Allies. After Hiroshima, a doctor (Nick Adams, also seen in Monster Zero) and nurse working on the effects of radiation on the human body encounter a Wild Child who seems to completely lack in any civilized influence...

but he has an abundance of forehead.

As the Wild Child continues to grow exponentially, a reptilian creature (Baragon) emerges from underground. Baragon terrorizes the people of Japan as suspicion about the Wild Child grows. Both scientists and the public wonder if the Wild Child is, in fact, the Frankenstein Monster grown from the still-beating heart that made it to a hospital in Hiroshima before the bombing.

Their suspicions are confirmed when they find the creature's severed hand, still crawling around in his cell.



Baragon's attacks are mistaken for the work of the Frankenstein creature, so the military is called to take him down.



Everyone realizes their mistake when the Frankenstein creature takes on Baragon head-to-head.

Truly, a battle for the ages.

The two giant monsters in this movie are probably two of the worst in the entire Toho Studios lineup. One is basically a dinosaur dog with a unicorn horn nose.



And the other is a skinny kid with a giant forehead.



Sure, the other elements of the story are pretty straight-faced (the mood is a bit somber with so many mentions of radiation poisoning and the Hiroshima bombing), but there's not much getting around the terrible giant monsters in a movie that is about giant monsters fighting one another.

Definitely recommended for fans of 1960s Toho films, recommended with reservations for giant monster movie fans, and not recommended at all to anyone else.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Zombie Doom (1999)



Three adrift sailors land on an island. Unfortunately, that island is home to a clan of murderous murdering murderers who have trash-can lids as shields and wear metal masks.



The leader of the clan employs a doctor to raise an army of the dead because...um...they needed to fulfill the criteria for putting the word "zombie" in the title, I guess? Anyway, my head hurts from trying to make sense of the first 15 minutes of this movie while being distracted by interludes of gore.

Let's face it, no one is here for the story.

Anyway, a former member of the murderous clan is allowed to attempt escape, along with the sailor guys, for the thrill of the hunt. A chase ensues that includes a lot a gore, a handful of zombies (again, just to fulfill the promise of the title), a couple of ninja, and a completely dubbed film which also features a guy who wears a small square of felt as a mustache unironically.

You've got to admire their commitment to not giving a shit.

There are so many things tossed together on-screen that you'd think one of them would be a plot. But this movie isn't about that trivial aspect of movie-making. Nor anything resembling "production value." Instead, the only value in this production was poured into gore, fake blood, practical gore effects, and everything that's not storytelling, visual acuity, or character development.

The last thing to go through his head is obvious. But tell me what he was thinking in that moment.

It's like somebody gave a 14 year-old, Lucio Fulci-inspired kid an over the shoulder camcorder (yet a ton of money for gore special effects) and said, "Make a movie!" If there was a script, it must've been written in crayon as suggestions for the actors. But more likely, the director just shot a bunch of scenes and then dubbed together a story later through some patchwork editing and a shrug of the shoulders.

"I want a ninja split in half in mid-air. I don't care how we get to that point." - the director, probably

While this movie keeps things interesting throughout its short run-time (78 minutes) with plenty of gore and terrible dubbing, it's not quite strange enough to be funny nor entertaining enough to completely overcome its poor production value.

Recommended for fans of gore and those who study completely absent plotting.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Doctor Strange (1978)

Front of the VHS copy, (also maybe an ad for a key party).

For those who don't know, Dr. Strange is generally known as a surgeon who loses the use of his hands in a car accident. After that, he seeks out and masters the art of magic. That seems to be what the Marvel movie is about.




But in this 1978 TV-movie version, Dr. Strange is a psychiatrist who shrugs his way into the ultimate sorcerer-battle with Morgan Le Fay.

Better known as Lucille Bluth from Arrested Development.

The first third of the movie shows Le Fay's pursuit of the Old Sorcerer Supreme at the behest of her master. Somehow, she decides that the best course of action is to hypnotize an attractive woman to make her toss the Old Sorcerer off a bridge.




Turns out the old coot is pretty resilient and survives the fall. A short time later, Dr. Strange is treating the attractive woman who tossed the Old Guy off the bridge for amnesia. This is how Dr. Strange and the Old Sorcerer Supreme are brought together. Finally. Half-way through the movie.

Old Sorcerer meets 70s Mustache Sorcerer

The Old Guy sends his mustachioed apprentice into the Fourth Dimension to retrieve the attractive girl, but also to teach him a lesson about his powers and astral projection.

While ripping off Stanley Kubrick at the same time.

Unlike Roger Corman's Fantastic Four, this movie isn't really ridiculous enough to be entertaining for the sake of its ridiculousness. Mostly it's a struggle for the viewer to make it past the first hour where none of this bullshit makes any sense and into the last thirty minutes where some shit finally happens.

The whole thing is clearly an attempt to mimic the success of  the Bill Bixby Incredible Hulk show, but without the Hulk showing up to make things even barely interesting. It's part 70's hospital procedural (think Emergency!), mixed with the spicy twinge of magical undercurrent.

Riveting.

If you're really into boring TV-movies, Doctor Strange (1978) is available through Amazon.

It used to be widely available on YouTube, but apparently Marvel doesn't want people to easily access evidence that it was once whoring itself out like a crack addict looking for the next fix.