When dinosaurs ruled the earth

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1970 (I’ve also seen 1971)

A tribe of people who live in the rocks look down on blond haired people, use them as slaves as sacrifice women to the sun. Yeah, not a good place to have fair hair. One such would be sacrifice victim Sanna manages to avoid death at the hands o f the crocodile mask wearing executioners and escape to the waters below. She is rescued by fishermen from another tribe who live on a beach. They take her back to say “look what we caught”, but everyone in this film only speaks a caveperson language. One of the guys that found her named Tara is taken with her and his brown haired girlfriend back at the beach becomes jealous. Around this time the beach people battle a seal like dinosaur and mange to defeat it-take that uh Sealosaurus. The jealous brown haired girl is mean to Sanna and they fight. Eventually the sour dudes who tried to sacrifice the blond show up looking for her, but she sees them first and takes off. They follow and one of them gets strangled by a snake and another gets killed by a Tricerotops-ew that’s what you get! Sanna gets part of her hair ripped off by a nasty fungus, but she survives by using her knife to make the mold bleed (!). She later becomes friends with a big, spikey dinosaur mother and her baby. Tara and some friends return from a fishing trip and he can’t believe Sanna is gone. So he ignores his-former brown haired girlfriend and goes after Sanna. He finds her and her dino friends, but unfortunately others see him. He is later tied up for conspiring with a blond. The sun is acting wacky and most people think it has to do with Sanna living rather than having been sacrificed. Tara escapes and goes back to Sanna. There is a guy fighting a pterodactyl around this time just because they could do it I guess. Eventually Tara and Sanna are both brought to the beach to be killed. However the weather is going crazy. Oh, wait it’s been a while since we’ve had any monsters so cue up the stop motion crabs-pinchy pinchy. The ocean is acting up so a lot of people are grabbing boats hoping to ride out the wild waves (what the?). The crazy head of the rock people tries to stop Tara and Sanna, but they knock him back. Then Mr. Crazy tries to stop a giant wave with his hands, but the giant wave wins that round-kersplash. Tara, Sanna and their friends ride out the wave until it stops. Then the moon makes it first appearance and I guess the world has changed for the better-roll the credits.

The negatives-I like all the dinosaurs except the part where they try to pass off a real lizard as a giant dinosaur. I hate when films do that. I also got annoyed by the use of a jungle set like it’s in the middle of the rocky exteriors.

The positives- The stop motion dinosaurs are all pretty cool. The locations (Canary Islands) are mostly fantastic. I overall liked the costumes, the beach village and the boats. The cave language is hard to follow at first, but after a while you’ll get it.

I first saw this film on AMC back in the 90’s and liked it right away. It’s different for sure, but the dinosaurs and the fairly steady action make it worthwhile. Hammer made a few films like this and I like this one the best. Hammer fans are often split on WDRTE, but I definitely count myself as a fan of it.

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Ten things I learned about Count Dracula (AKA: Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula)

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1970

1-Everyone gets all wide eyed and fearful if you say you are going to Castle Dracula.

2-Dracula doesn’t like to dust, but he does like having candles everywhere.

3-There’s lots of unused space at Dracula’s castle.

4-Dracula’s women like big poofy wigs.

5-When woman become undead they give up blue outfits for black.

6-Dracula gets younger and his hair gets less grey after he sucks blood from people. Sure beats coloring one’s hair.

7-Dracula can’t always travel in the fast lane so sometime he just has some gypsies carting his coffin around for him.

8-Dropping rocks on gypsies will make them stop with that Dracula worship/carting him around stuff.

9-Setting Dracula on fire is a perfectly okay solution to wrapping a film up.

10-If number nine doesn’t work then just shove the flaming box with Drac in it off a high wall.

Hack Director Jess Franco set out to make a Dracula film that was very much based on Stoker’s book. He signed up Christopher Lee as Dracula, Herbet Lom and Van Helsing and Klaus Kinski as Renfeld. All good choices although I don’t get why he made Renfeld mute. Even the other cast members are good enough. The sets and backgrounds very from decent up to outstanding. What doesn’t work is a script that seems underdone. While there are parts of the film that are more loyal to the book that doesn’t mean it’s better as some parts of the film take far too long to happen. Franco’s direction is frequently slow as he and the cameraman hope that long shots of people moving slowly will add to the mood…it doesn’t. Franco and Lee both expressed their displeasure over Hammer’s Dracula films for taking too many liberties with the character. However most Hammer films had action and enough going to keep one’s attention. This film largely misses on that last point which makes this film tough to make it through despite the cast and some nice visuals.

 

 

Scrooge

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“My life used to be good, now it’s just stinky.”

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“My future involves a cheap looking skeleton-aieeeee!”

1970

This fella named Scrooge is a hard working type who gets taken advantage by lazy bums. Oh, no wait Scrooge is actually supposed to be in the wrong here-you mean old miser you. He grumps at his employee Bob Cratchet, then he grumps at some guys wanting money and he grumps at people that owe him money. Wow, what a fun movie it’s all about an about old geezer being sour. Then people just break out in song for no obvious reason. Oh that must mean this is a musical. Apparently this Scrooge doesn’t like music either because the songs sure aren’t helping his mood any. He is not too easily scared either as his door knocker turns into a face and he sees a ghostly carriage driver yet still remains unruffled. Maybe ghosts were commonplace in 19th century England. He doesn’t get much sleep as his old business partner Jacob Marley shows up for a visit. Hey that’s great, oh wait he died years ago so not so great. This ghost tells Scrooge he will be visited by even more ghosts. I’m sure keeping an old grump up more with ghostly visits will surely help his mood. The first ghost is a woman who shows Scrooge how he used to be kind of nice and then became greedy and turned his life into a miserable suck fest. The second ghost shows up to get Scrooge drunk, show him that he’s missing out by not visiting with his nephew and that he’s causing his employee grief by being such a miser. The third ghost shows Scrooge a life where people sing and are happy and um well all that is because Scrooge dies and all the people that owe him money are happy and celebrate his death. He even goes to hell and see what a not so wonderful place it is. So he chooses to come back and be good and wonderful to people. This results in him running and singing through town dressed as Santa just like we’d all do as an alternative to going to hell. So he is a changed man and will be good from now on.

The negatives-If you don’t like musicals you may not be thrilled by this one. This was actually a bit of a box office failure when it came out. Then again so was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory when it came out a year later. So maybe movie goers in the early 70’s didn’t know a good musical when they saw it. The scene in hell always seemed a little out of place to me and actually this scene used to be cut out of the film when it came on TV-not sure if that was because of content or time constraints.

The positives-Albert Finney does a fine job as Scrooge and the make-up was top notch making him look 25 plus years older than he was. The songs are mostly strong and performed well. The standout is likely Anton Rogers as soup man Ton Jenkins leading “Thank you very much” over the dead body of Scrooge. The sets are visuals are memorable as well. The toy store in particular always drew me in.

When I was in 6th grade we took a school field trip to see this in the movies around Christmas and I loved it. It was a re-release then as it was 11 years old when I first saw it, but I have enjoyed it ever since.

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Obi-Wab KeMarley

 

 

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Look out, there’s a Christmas musical coming down main street.

Beneath the planet of the apes

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Worst rescue attempt ever.

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If I could talk I’d say this wasn’t a very good sequel.

1970

When we last left Taylor and Nova we saw Taylor realize this was earth that apes had taken over. Oh, well this is a sequel time to ride on- literally as he and Nova ride on further into the forbidden zone. Then they run into a wall of fire and a crack in the earth-oh dear being ruled by those doesn’t look so bad now. Then Taylor vanishes and Nova is left alone. Meanwhile another Earth spaceship from the past has found it’s way to this time. That’s about as likely as me sprouting wings and becoming an angel, but hey this is sci-fi. Unfortunately this ship crashed too-didn’t anyone from that time know how to fly these things? This one crashed in the desert and only a guy named Brent (James Franciscus) survives. He runs into Nova and sees she has Taylor’s dogtags and he knows Taylor. He gets her to lead him to the ape city -dumb move. A planet of apes? How can this be? They witness General Ursus (James Gregory and awesome voice) trying to lead the army to the forbidden zone to take it over much to the objections of Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans-another great voice). Brent and Nova try to flee but Brent gets hurt-no good happens for humans around these darned dirty apes. Nova takes him to their old friends the chimps for help. Cornelius must have a cold because he sounds different, oh that’s because Roddy McDowall was unavailable so David Watson is playing him this time around but Kim Hunter is back as Zira. Things go fast and bad from here. Ursus and Zaius and a bunch of apes head to the forbidden zone – kind of like a vacation only with lots of horror and fear. Brent and Nova get caught, but escape only they end up underground. Instead of moles and rabbits they find a freakish, telepathic, robe wearing cult who worship a nuclear bomb. Wait, is this still the same movie? Did someone change the channel? Nope, same film. Apparently this is the old New York subway. Brent tells the mutants that the Apes are a coming so the mutants try to drive the apes off with illusions, but it fails and guess whose coming for dinner? You get a star if you guessed gun toting apes. Meanwhile Brent finds Taylor who is a prisoner. They eventually break out just in time to run straight into a battle between the apes and the mutants. Let’s just saw the side with the firearms is winning. Cut to the chase-the bomb is armed-Taylor and Brent get killed and kapowie the earth explodes and this one no one can say they blew it up because they are all gone. That’s it, no more planet of the apes and no more sequels unless some desperate Hollywood type throws out some  screwy plot to keep this thing going-oh wait I think they did. Roll the credits.

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Well that doesn’t look nice at all.

Amognst the mutants you may recognize veteran character actor Jeff Corey (True Grit and tons of other things), Victor Buono (King Tut from Batman) , Gregory Sierra (Sanford and Son, Barney Miller), Natalie Trundy (she shows up in the three Apes sequels after this too) and Don Pedro Colley (dude, he was Sheriff Little on the Dukes of Hazzard).

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Just because we wear flesh masks and worship a bomb doesn’t mean we are freaks-okay maybe it does.

The negatives-The original didn’t really need a sequel. While this film start out promising enough it falls apart towards the end. It’s like different types of a dystopian future all tossed into one world to show all the badness at one time. Also the budget was cut and it was decided to save dough by using rubber masks on apes in the background instead of make-up and yes we can see it and no it doesn’t look good.

The positives- The film has a decent cast, some good visuals and some real potential early on.

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No more sequels for you!

This film had some good ideas that were lost by a heavy handed treatment of the script. I think the film turned out as just average and I’d rank it as forth of the five original films. However it did push this into a series and it made money so more sequels were made.

Planet of the apes week is marching on here with more to come this week so get ready.

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Why yes some of those guys behind me are wearing rubber masks.

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Monkeying around.

 

Scars of Dracula

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1970

This one frequently gets ripped to shreds even by or particularly by Hammer fans. It would be the last Dracula film that Hammer would do in a gothic setting. So let’s see happened here. This short flop haired guy who likes woman and he may do okay with them, but his luck on this night is just awful. To avoid the law he flees town and one wild event after another transpires then eventually he ends up at Dracula’s castle running for his life aieeee. So then his flop haired, not so bright brother and his girlfriend go looking for floppy hair number one. They run into a bartender (Michael Ripper steady as always) and a bunch of floppy wigged goons who run them out of town. You see they lost all their women folk early in the film to Dracula so now they just hate everyone who mentions vampires, Dracula, the castle or kitty cats well not kitty cats, but yes to the others. Anyways of course flop hair # 2 and his girlfriend end up at the castle dealing with Dracula (a very pale and bored looking Christoper Lee) and his weird as all get out servant Klove (Patrick Troughton). Drac seems nice at first but hey we’ve this before he just wants the girl. Flop hair # 2 is just a little smarter than his brother. Drac gets his girl briefly and he discovers his brother has a big hook sticking through what used to be his chest-aw so sad. So eventually there is a final fight in front of a cheap as dirt backdrop classy, realistic looking edge of a castle. Dracula picks ups a metal rod and impales the lame hero and his girl in a grisly manner with blood gushing everywhere. Everyone chants Drac-Drac-Drac! Yeah, right the vampire never wins in these. What really happens is lighting hits the metal rod and old pointy teeth or at least his stuntman catches on fire and jumps off the ledge to his death- yaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! The goody goodies triumph and roll the credits.

The bad-The production values are pretty crap in many aspects this time around. We see strings on the bat, the stunt man’s mask in the fire, wrinkles in the backdrop, the day for night is worse than films that Hammer did ten years prior. The story is run of the mill. Christopher Lee seems ready for the film to end as soon as possible. The holes in logic-vampire girl getting stabbed by Drac, Klove letting in nasty villagers just because they say they have something for him and other slips.

The good-It’s a gothic Dracula from Hammer and that always appeals to me. It has an overall decent cast. There are some good items visually, the castle, the valley below, the gore effects on flop hair # 1 and others.

It’s far from Hammer’s best but I tend to like it more than most people. The fact that it was one of the first I saw in the series may help as well.

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Hercules in New York

 

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Us in a movie? Youz guys gots to be kiddin’!

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AKA-Hercules the movie, Hercules goes bananas (I saw it under this title on a VHS copy at a rental store in the 80’s)

1969/1970

So someone had the bright idea to make a comedy about Hercules. They hired this Austrian bodybuilder named Schwarzensomething or other and billed him as Arnold Strong. Then they hired the guy that voiced Top Cat to play a Pretzie a pretzel vender and more comic relief. So in this Hercules is in Olympus or some park in New York. He mouths off to Zeus or a soap opera actor with a bad wig in front of the rest of the Olympians or a bunch of second and third rate actors and actresses in bedsheets. Zeus sends Herc to Earth as punishment. There he ends up on a ship and tries to leave when they dock so a bunch of goonie sailor try to fight him. He has a mighty battle oh, wait no budget for such so loser guys just bounce around eventually fall in the water to make this look like a battle of some kind. Herc runs into Pretzie and he rattles on about some looney talk. They meet this professor and his daughter Helen. Herc shows off his might and sports skills by throwing the discus and javelin further than some puny college lumps. People blather on, Herc speaks in a thick Austrian accent and Pretzie gets Herc into wrestling. Herc goes out with Helen, but eventually a guy in a ratty bear suit escapes from the zoo and Herc has to teach him a lesson in Central Park in the greatest non-actor vs. man in a bear suit fight in central park ever! The Olympians disagree on whether to help or hinder Herc on earth and he gets some of both, lucky and unlucky him. Pretzie gets in over his head with some gangster types who seem to have forgotten this in 1968 New York and not 1920’s Chicago because they dress and act like the latter. Okay if Herc wins all is okay, but one of them goddess types takes his power away! Yikes so Herc loses the weight lifting thingie and then he, Pretzie and Helen flee from the gangsters. They end up in a warehouse for a big fight with everyone acting like they just learned how to walk. Herc is getting roughed up so some wrestlers dressed in bed sheets show up to help toss gangster around. All is fine and Herc goes back to Olympus. At the end Zeus decides to take his tacky wig and ridiculous facial hair and go to earth as well, what a crazy idea. Roll the credits.

The negatives-It’s slow. It’s supposed to be a comedy but it’s more laughable than funny which is alright. There isn’t much of a budget either so you get what you get. Listen for car noises when we are supposed to at Mount Olympus.

The positives-So we get to see Arnold long before he became the biggest action star on the planet. He had the last laugh in that he did this crazy, low budget film but eventually he made it and can look back and laugh at it. This is a fun film because he’s in it and because of it’s lack of budget, plot or much else. Just total silliness. There are two versions on the DVD. One with Arnold’s voice and one where he his dubbed with a very dull and serious voice, go with Arnold’s voice it’s way better. I liked Arnold Stang as a voice actor and comedian and here he tries despite the very limited material. Deborah Loomis isn’t much of an actress, but what a smile. I first saw this film in the 90’s on cable and knew it by reputation. I was expecting a real groaner, but was surprised with it being an enjoyable lump of cheese. I bought it for $5 on DVD like ten years ago and I watch it several times every year.

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We spent most of the film’s budget on bed sheets.

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Deborah Loomis as Helen.

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Why didn’t he wear a beanie in the Terminator?

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Even Arnold can’t make a turtleneck look very cool.

Christmas specials week: Santa Claus is comin’ to town

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1970

So this human baby is raised by elves who make toys. Then he goes off to the big city to meet his real dad and have sugar driven hilarious adventures. Oh, wait I thought this was Elf when I got to that second line. Go back to that first line and let’s go from there. A young guy is raised by toy making elves and he wants to go to this town to give  away toys. Along the ways he runs into a mean winter warlock who turns into a not so bad dude when given a toy. He’s not the main meanie here anyhow. A fat sour face named Meisterburger Burgermeister rules over a town and does not allow toys. Well that puts and end to that. Okay not so fast because this  Kringle fellow who will one day be Santa pushes the limits to get toys to the kids. In doing so he sets up a lot of things that will one day be Christmas traditions for all of us to follow. He also meets the woman who will one day be his wife and he likes even after she sings this out of place hippie dippy song. Kris (Santa) gets nabbed, but his friends help him and eventually toys and goodwill win out and Mushroom Burger I mean Meisterburger Burgermeister fades away. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the rest build a workshop at the North Pole and it all falls into place. So now we are all the wiser and made aware of every piece fell into place or something like that.

Not quite as classic as Rudolph and for me not as amusing as Year without a Santa Claus, but definitely a good one. The characters are good as are the voices. I really like the Winter Warlock quite a bit. We watch this one every year and for this season we watched it last week.

The Vampire’s Night Orgy

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1973

Top things I learned from this movie

1-Don’t get on a bus where the driver has a heart attack or else you’ll end up in a vampire village.

2-Don’t sport a big Charles Bronson mustache or else the vampires will grab you first.

3-If the Charles Bronson mustache guy asks you to come into a bus at night and then invites you up front don’t do it. The bus is really full of vampires and they’ll jump you.

4-If you’re a skinny geek and a countess asks you to her bedroom don’t do it because she’ll end up feeding you to a pack of hungry vampires.

5-Peeking at the woman next door through a hole in the wall will eventually draw her to you. Only it will also  be because you’re the only human dude left and the vampires are after you.

6-Don’t get your tires caught in the mud or the vampires will almost get you.

7-If you escape the vampire village don’t tell the police because they’ll show you that such a village never existed.

The negatives-The script is all over the place if it ever really existed at all. The male vampires needed better make-up. They look like scruffy dudes gritting their teeth.

The positives-Great scenery with the mountains really setting the mood. The sets were decent too. Even though the plot was sketchy the action and attempts at scary moments made it a better than average film.

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We be vampires with big mustaches…snarl, grrr!