Archive for August, 2008

"Everybody relax – I'm here!"

Oh, Jack Burton, is there any line of yours I cannot apply to anything?Science!

Yes, I made it, I’m here and with hours to spare. Hours, I tell you!

My contribution to the Ssshh! Roundtable is the 1918 Danish movie Himmelskibet, or as it may be better known in the English-speaking lands, the far more lackluster A Trip to Mars.  Join Captain Avanti Planetaros and his international crew – well, one American drunkard and an “Oriental” – as they build an airship to travel to Mars, there to find – Space Hippies! And all this fifty years before 2001: A Space Odyssey!

The Last Word (Well, maybe… Freex?)

One last straggling silent, and a bunch of other stuff:

The Bone Collector (1999), in which one detective who is not William Somerset guides another who is not Clarice Starling in a desperate hunt for a killer who really, really– no, seriously– is not John Doe…

Burnt Offerings (1976), in which you don’t have to go to Amityville to find real estate that isn’t nearly as good a deal as it looks…

Frankenstein (1910), in which Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson struggle for control over the destiny of a monster who just wants somebody to pay attention to him, damnit!…

Hard Candy (2006), in which a couple of tricky bastards actually manage to make me root for a child molester…


Sugar Hill (1974), which a year and a half earlier would surely have wound up being called Black Zombie instead, without anyone ever noticing how redundant that would be.

(sigh) Still mostly silent

As much as I love silent movies, I found it very difficult to choose a movie to write about for this Roundtable. So I decided to do something a little different. My plan, in spite of my busy schedule, was to write and edit the musical score for an entire 86-minute silent film… in a month.

This was a stupid, stupid plan. As soon as I announced it (as I should have foreseen), my normal workload tripled, and my computer came up with all sorts of excuses why it shouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. So here I am at the end of August, and all I have to show for my labor is 15 minutes or so of new music for:

The Bat (1926).

Even though it’s drastically incomplete… even though my test audience thought it sucked… even though I’ve blown out my website’s monthly bandwidth allowance testing it… I’m posting it anyway. What’s more, I’m going to keep working on it until it’s done.

Some people just can't take a hint

Classics? History?? Art!? Religion!?

My, my, my…. What a high-brow Roundtable this has been, to be sure. As for me, I’m wrapping up my contribution with something more along the lines of what might have been expected: an old dark house, a killer on the loose, and some rather dubious comedy.


Choo. Choo.

I can claim some expertise in the juvenile-oriented direct-to-video fare produced in Romania through the late ’90s (and just into the 21st century) by any combination of Full Moon Studios, PulsePounders!, Kushner-Locke, Inc., Castel Film, and CanaRom Productions. So sit up and take notice when I say that Train Quest (2001) is the most banal, paint-by-numbers production to come out of the combined efforts of those usual suspects.

The World's Most FABULOUS Vampire

Vampire Circus
Mitterhaus is absolutely ludicrous. He’s like a spoof vampire played by a drag queen in a disco musical written, directed, starring, and only seen by the world’s most flamboyant drag queens, and then at the end they all agree that the play was good but Mitterhaus was a little too campy for them. When you’re too campy for a theater full of drag queens, you are definitely too campy for a Hammer film, especially one that is otherwise so weird and serious. Not that Mitterhaus doesn’t have his strong suits as a character. For one, he lives in a cool castle populated by a couple sexy naked orgy women. He has lovely taste is sashes. And the fact that he’s kidnapped and lured a little girl into his sleazy lair gives the character an air of scummy, almost pedophiliac menace that really makes him a villain. You could always root for Dracula, even when he was at his worst and whipping Dr. Who with steel switches, but Mitterhaus just gives off a creepy uncle vibe.


I’ll show you some mesmerism, you Mormon bastard! YOU WILL GIVE US BACK OUR WOMEN! OUR WOMEN!

I finally catch up with the first epic chapter in the career of my favorite cinematic supervillain, and find the man who would be Mabuse. Disguises, cons, seduction, murder, mayhem, and a lot more murder in Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse the Gambler. It’s all part of this month’s B-Masters Roundtable.

Your God is Silent

Continuing the theme of silent films about religion,though with a sad lack of mesmerism:

The Godless Girl
Cecil B. DeMille’s final silent film, The Godless Girl, had the misfortune of being released in the shadow of The Jazz Singer, making it a casualty of the rapid shift in public tastes from pictures that didn’t talk to those that did. As a result, it became something of a footnote in DeMille’s career, which is a shame. For people, like myself, who entertain a fairly narrow conception of the director based on his association with Bible-thumpers like King of Kings and The Ten Commandments, viewing it can be an eye-opening experience — because even though it is, in part, concerned with the spread of atheism among the young people of its day, it doesn’t quite come down on that topic in the way you might expect.

Feeling lucky?

The late Anthony Perkins was best known as an actor, but did you know that he worked behind the camera several times? One of those times was when he directed the black comedy LUCKY STIFF, from a screenplay created by comedy writer Pat Proft (THE NAKED GUN). Did Perkins get lucky? Check it out!

Your wimmens! We want them!

Say what you will about the melodramatic propaganda film Trapped By the Mormons (1922), you can’t exactly call it subtle.  You also can’t call it good, either.  But some these days call it hysterical.  Me?  I call it silent, which is why I’m reviewing it now!