The Avengers-Too many Christmas trees

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1965 in the UK, wasn’t shown until August 1966 in the US.

We all wish we had dreams on dark landscapes with odd Christmas trees, bizarre presents and a very creepy Santa. Wait, actually we don’t. However John Steed keeps having these dreams. He informs his work partner Emma Peel and she doesn’t think much of it at first. Then they get invited to a Charles Dickens themed party thrown by one of Miss Peel’s friends Jeremy. While there Steed recognizes decorations from his dreams and knows there has to be a connection. These wacko nightmares are actually linked to a wacko plot by you guessed it-wackos. Actually telepathic spies to be precise. However they make the mistake of appearing in Steed’s dreams. When he awakes Steed is strong enough to know who is up to no good and be ready for their not so merry attempts to use him. Steed and Peel get to the bottom of things and end the attempts by these mindreading hooligans. They’ll be getting coal this year for sure. Roll the credits.

This is a classic episode for this show. The leads keep their cool even during a very strange plot. A strange plot it is. I always lover the Emma Peel era of this show because the two characters worked so well together. They also always managed to make sense of the most out there situations and work through them. Definitely a very different Christmas episode, but a good one.

 

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It came from the bargin bin-Both Dr. Goldfoot films

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1965/1966

Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine/Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs

Purchased at Walmart for $5 around Halloween in 2012 I think. This was a I believe the first time that the second film was released on DVD here in the states. It’s a two a two film one disc kind of set with no extra and several other Vincent Price films were done by the same company at the same time. Just an FYI I saw both these films on TV recently and the prints on this DVD are way better than the ones on TV. I had seen the first film a few times before but had never seen the second one.

These are both essentially spoofs on James Bond/spy films however with Price being the featured performer they focus a bit more on the villain then the heroes. The films were made by American International right around the same time this company was making teen-beach-surf movies so the first film has some people that appeared in those same flicks. In the Bikini Machine we see Goldfoot (Price) making female robots to seduce rich guys and get control of their assets and assume power that way. A wannabe junior detective (Frankie Avalon) falls for a robot (Susan Hart) meant for a rich dude. Avalon realizes something is up and works to uncover what it is and stop Goldfoot. There’s lots of slapstick, sight gags and foolishness going on amidst music, dancing and Price hamming it up. It looks like Goldfoot is stopped at end after a wild chase, but they leave it open for a second film.

The second film pretends to follow up on the first as per the opening, but it’s awkward from the start. Only Price is back and the rest of the cast is different. The film was moved to Europe and given to director Mario Bava (Black Sunday, Black Sabbath and numerous other brilliant films). However Bava was going through a messy divorce at the time and this film really seems to suffer from lack of attention. Fabian takes over the Frankie Avalon type part, but most of the rest of the supporting cast are Italian which is fine except they gave major time to a pair of horribly unfunny comedians. These guys are so bad I just wanted to smack them and  say “you aren’t funny, get out of the picture”. This time Goldfoot is blowing up Generals with girls who explode in an attempt to take over the world. That’s no worse than the plot of the first film and Price and his lackeys try to be kind of entertaining. However as obvious and silly as the first film was at least it seemed to have been done with some effort. This movie particularly after about 20-30 minutes just falls apart and looks like it was made up as they went along. I like silly nonsense as much as the next person, but wow this movie is just plain painful down the stretch. Even the music isn’t as good as the first film

The positives-For the first film it’s Price, Hart, the music and a decent sense of keeping a balance between mindless humor and some kind of plot. The second film pretty much lacks all of the above except Price who does what he can. Also a lot of the outside locations on both films have some moments.

The negatives-The first film’s major flaw is this kind of silliness isn’t for everyone and of course it’s dated. The second film has a rotten script, two of the worst comedians I’ve ever seen and some horrible antics that have unfortunately been burned into my brain. Fortunately Maria Bava recovered and did some better films and Vince Price still had some good ones left in him as well.

So the question is was this set worth five bucks? Obviously it falls almost entirely on the first film. For me I’d say yes it’s just worth that amount. I like the silliness and can watch the first one once or twice a year. The second film is really bad but as a huge Vincent Price fan I am glad to finally see it.

There you go a case of a decent film making a DVD worth the price tag despite being paired with a stink bomb.

The War of the gargantuas

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1966

Ew.. a giant octopus attacks a guy on a boat, but a green square headed, shag carpet creature called a Gargantua shows up and beats up the octopus and then rattles the ship. Eventually the military and the required American lead and pretty leading lady are called in talk and fill in time in between monster appearances. The green gargantuan shows up and scares people away  from the airport. Aieeeee I be a scary monsters…ew run, run. Oh and he has this neato trick where he put a person in his mouth and then spit out the clothing. Hey, where did the person go? Oh, I get it. So the people have had enough of being terrorized and eaten and having their building ripped up so the military goes after this thingie. The humans give chase and let loose their weaponry kapow kapow! The gargantuan tries to flee, but the humans began shocking him. He’s on the ropes, he’s ready to go down, but wait what is this? Another gargantua! A brown one! He helps the green one get away. Now there should be more action right away..nope let’s talk about this and throw in some back story on the gargantuas. Eventually there’s more action and yes a showdown between the mean green gargantua and the nicer brown one. They wrestle in a swimming pool ocean and some fighter planes get involved. Eventually both monsters are gone for good and all is well because giant monster never bother Japan more than once…oh wait…strike that. Roll the credits.

The negatives-Like other Kaiju films of the time it has some silliness and some budget limitations.

The positives-The action is generally good for this style of film. The effects are good enough for the time and I think the colors and sets are quite decent. I like this one for a change from Godzilla, Mothra and their bunch as we get more humanoid monsters for a change.

I never saw this one until very recently, but I like it a lot and need to watch it again soon.

 

How the Grinch stole Christmas

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1966

So this oddly shaped fella called the Grinch lives up on this mountain. He hates the Whos who live down in the village, he hates Christmas and apparently he’s not too fond of clothing because he strolls around naked. Christmas is coming so the Grinch develops this crazy plan where is going to animate the Statue of Liberty with goop and walk around in it oh, hey wait I think I just mixed up the notes of the Grinch with Ghostbusters 2. Now, here we go the Grinch will dress up in a crap Santa suit (yet he still doesn’t like pants). Then he makes his poor little doggie Max pretend to be a  reindeer. On Christmas eve they go down to the Who village and start taking all their Christmas stuff. So not only is the Grinch a near nudist but he’s a thief too. A little who named Cindy Lou Who wakes up and questions the Grinch, but he lies (another strike against him) and goes about his horrible business. He takes all his collected stuff in his sleigh back up the mountain to dump it and really create a mess. He thinks that this will really curdle the Who’s milk. However they wake up singing. The Grinch stops and realizes he’s been a real nasty guy so his new found goodness helps him to stop the sleigh from falling off the mountain. He and Max ride back down to the village, give all the stuff back and fortunately instead of beating the Grinch senseless for his crimes the Who’s are a forgiving lot. The Grinch has Christmas dinner with Whos and cuts on something called a roast beast. Now he’s a good Grinch. Roll the animated credits.

Negatives-Nope.

Positives-A great adaption of a wonderful Dr. Seuss book. The Chuck Jones animation is fantastic in bringing these characters to life. Boris Karloff is one of the few people who could have done justice to the Grinch. A classic cartoon through and through.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

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1966

Linus and Lucy steal a pumpkin and race it off to their house. Linus who would seem to be around 6-8 has apparently lived under a rock and has never seen anyone pull it’s seeds before as he acts like a loon when Lucy does this. Linus then tries telling everyone they should sit out in a cold, wet pumpkin patch on Halloween night and wait for this Great Pumpkin to pop up and give them treats. Sound like he just wiped out all the smart things he said at the Christmas special. Sally believes him, but we know she not the sharpest knife in the drawer either. Everyone else prepares for trick or treating. Charlie Brown can’t cut very well or grow hair or keep his clothes on at a baseball game. Oh but that not cutting so well thing gets him a crap costume which may or may not have been the reason he gets a bunch of rocks instead of candy while trick or treating. All the normal kids get candy even nasty old Lucy although she does ask for candy for her brother because he’s out being a lunkhead and sitting in the pumpkin patch. Eventually they all go a to a Halloween party where Lucy kisses Snoopy by way of an apple. Ew, yuck Lucy germs! Then Snoopy goes off in a big fantasy/WWI flying ace thingie complete with weird music. Eventually Snoopy rises up out of the pumpkin patch. Linus thinks it’s Great Pumpkin and falls over. Sally gets some sense and yells at him before storming off. Silly Linus falls asleep out there alone and dies a horrible death oh no wait Lucy came and got him and took him before the death part. Charlie Brown regrets having a rotten holiday while Linus says he was not wrong and he will show everyone next year as he goes off on a lunatic rant while the credits roll.

The negatives-Not so much except for the depressing part on how bad Halloween stunk for Charlie Brown. Maybe he needed to move to a town where the adults weren’t so cruel as to give rocks to kids on Halloween.

The positives-A holiday classic. We watch it every year and had it in while we carved the pumpkin on Halloween this year.

TV terror Thursday-Green Acres

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The ballad of Molly Turgis

1966

Mr. Douglas and Eb get into a conversation about folk songs and zzzzzz oh wait I better wake up and hope the episode gets better. Eb starts to tell Mr. Douglas about a legend of a person named Molly Turgis not Turdgis because the second one would stink. Anyways Eb says her name and a lantern breaks and says he shouldn’t have said her name. Mr. Douglas says her name and a pitchfork falls behind them although they didn’t see it. Mr. Douglas goes on to his wife Lisa about his folk songs blah, blah, blah. Later at Drucker’s store Mr. Douglas mentions Molly Turgis and boom a pickle barrel falls apart. Mr. Douglas wants to know the story of Molly Turgis, but no one wants to tell him. He sings some of his folk songs in the living room about people being beaten and killed and stuff-real uplifting toe tappers don’t you know. Meanwhile he says her name while shaving in front of the mirror and an old hag appears only in the mirror and then quickly vanishes. Finally Mr. Douglas finds out that Molly Turgis lived around the area 100 years ago and was so ugly that she was run out of town, but she vowed to come back and haunt the area. Mr. Douglas keeps saying her name and causes more damage. He tells the story of Molly to his wife Lisa. Lisa calls for Molly through the mirror and offers to do her hair and skin to make her look better if she promises to stop haunting people. Meanwhile Mr. Douglas decides to write a folk song (or solk fong as the ongoing joke in the episode goes) about Molly and he has no fear of saying her name now since Lisa said Molly promised no more haunting. So Mr. Douglas sings his song. Meanwhile Molly shows up slightly less hideous and in non-spirit form to thank Lisa and ask to do one more trick. She then causes Mr. Douglas to get whacked on the head by his own guitar. He kind of had it coming since he called Molly ugly as sin multiple times in his song.

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The negatives- No Monroe brothers in this one, they are always a hoot.

The positives-This was a quirky often crazy show and this episode is part of that. I like the idea of a legend come to life in this one.

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TV terror Thursday-The Saint

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1966

Laurence Payne (Vampire Circus, The Tell tale heart and the Crawling eye) as Noel Bastian a local guy and author. His wife and others think he is fooling around with Ann.

Suzanne Farmer (Dracula-Prince of darkness, Die monster die!) as Ann Clanraith a young who works helping Noel Bastian with his book. Her dad and Noel’s wife thinks she fooling around with Noel

Caroline Blakiston (Scoop, Return of the Jedi) as Eleanor Bastian wife of Noel. She think the above, but she also believes in the Loch Ness Monster and hopes to prove it exists.

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The Saint Simon Templar shows up in the Loch Ness area in Scotland just in time to find a dead dog and some huge footprints of perhaps a monster?  Some people think there is  a monster and some don’t. There is no shortage of other drama either as all of the above about suspected fooling around is going on as well. Local scruffy neck Willie insists the monster exists. Then he shows up buying drinks with big bills that no one has ever seen him have. Simon questions him and Willie sets up to meet with him that night and tell him something. Simon gets Ann to go with him but they find Willie dead so no new information for them-denied. So the monster talk heats up. Believer and former big game hunter Eleanor sets up a monster watch and with herself, her husband, local dude Angus (who likes Ann) and Simon taking shifts. Eleanor takes the first shift. Around this time Simon stumbles upon an underground tunnel that leads to a cave near the water. In the cave are oxygen tanks, a boat, a bloody spiked club and big thing used for making monster footprints. Uh, oh someone has been playing monster. Simon gets out and back to let Noel know that he is late in relieving Elanor on the monster watch. So Noel runs out to relieve his wife and she fusses at first but give him some coffee. Fog rolls in and Noel looks to be slumped over at his watch. A boat comes a shore and a trenchcoat wearing person gets out carrying that big spiked club. They walk up on the slumped Noel and swing the club and strike one-he dodges the club. Of course it’s not Noel it’s Simon who has been in wait for the killer. They struggle and the killer is indeed old man Smithers and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids-oh wait no it’s actually Eleanor. She hated her husband and set up this monster business to kill him plus she killed the dog and Willie. Before Simon and Noel can grab her she races back to the boat and goes back out into the fog of Loch Ness. The others call for her to come back, but bubble come up in the water, she screams and they later find her dead body believing the monster got her. Roll those credits.

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The negatives-The monster is a little silly for the Saint although being the bright dude he is he knew all along that something was up.

The positives-Glad to see monster movie veterans like Farmer and Payne in this one. While the monster idea seems slightly out of place for the Saint I always welcome monsters. The mystery part of the episode was played well enough. Overall an entertaining episode.

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Batman

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1966

After the first season of the series a theatrical movie was released. All the key people played their roles except Julie Newmar was already doing another project so Lee Meriweather was brought in to play the Catwoman.

The Joker, Catwoman, Riddler and the Penguin are out, free and ready to cause havoc in  a campy, low-budget kind of way. The villains plot various devious traps for the dynamic duo. They try missiles and that fails. So then Catwoman pretends to mIss Kitka a reporter from Russia who lures Bruce Wayne in with her charms. He falls for her of course. Meanwhile the fiends have also kidnapped the head of a distillery and taken his device which basically just dehydrates things. Wait, what do they want that for? Hold onto your capes there Mr. and Mrs. Impatient we’ll get to that. Bruce Wayne fights the baddies, Batman can’t get rid of a bomb, Alfred drive the Batmobile and Bruce/Bats still can’t figure out that Catwoman is miss Kitka. The Penguin tried to be someone else (Bats sees through this disguise) and Batman and Robin cause tome thugs to pop like bubbles and vanish POOF! The villainous four eventually take the Gotham equivalent of the United Nations and they suck the juice out of them, sweep up their powered remains and take off with the Dynamic Duo in pursuit. Evenutally this leads to a sea battle where the heroes cause the no-goodnicks to surface in their submarine and take part in fisticuffs. Of course good beats evil in front of a wrinkly backdrop. Although Batman is saddened when he realizes that Catwoman was Miss Kitka, oh the horrors of love or something like that. The caped crusader and his partner return the powered people dust to their chairs (after a sneezing incident) and add liquid but things are slightly off. Oh, well they are out of time so roll the credits.

I have seen this film at least 30 times. It’s a real hoot. You also need to hear the Adam West and Burt Ward commentary with it as well.

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Mecha-G’s monster of the month

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“Make way because I’m going to vaporize every living soul, I’ll…” Oh, hey how’s it going? It’s me Mecha-G here to deliver my monster of the month for January. This month it’s some zombies for the 1966 Hammer films presentation The plague of the zombies. Now these are old school pre-Romero zombies. So they dead people who have brought back to life to be mindless slaves. They are a little slow but still creepy enough in this situation. Unfortunately they and their masters were defeated in this movie. Better luck next time, back to my mission. “Look out worthless humans, I’m walking here and I’ll smash you into rubble. Wahahaha!”