Legends of Horror, Discs 3 and 4

Two discs only because the second consists entirely of flicks I’ve already reviewed (in the Alfred Hitchcock set).

Disc 3

End of the World, 1977, color. John Hayes (dir.), Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott, Dean Jagger, Lew Ayres, Macdonald Carey. 1:28 [1:26]

More low-budget scifi (not science fiction) than horror, but I suppose Christopher Lee in a dual role gets it into this category. The story, such as it is: A professor (Scott) studying mysterious transmissions from outer space (and occasionally in contact with a government man working along the same lines) also finds mysterious transmissions to outer space—and suddenly begins decoding the outer-space transmissions, which appear to be notes of natural disasters, repeated three times. Accurate notes of disasters shortly before they happen…

Ah, but his boss doesn’t want him wasting time on this nonsense, he wants him on a lecture tour extolling the thrills of space science, so more people will earn appropriate degrees—and his beautiful wife likes the idea as well. There’s some odd sex play in the movie (he postpones going to an award banquet to Get Down, and his wife (Lyon) says something about “why didn’t this happen ten years ago?”), although no actual sex or nudity.

Anyway…he goes off with his wife, on their own, to check out the two locations where transmissions to outer space occurred. One is a seemingly harmless convent visited in broad daylight; the other, 40 miles away, is a fenced facility…and somehow it’s now the middle of the night. This allows for them creeping around mostly in the dark, the two getting separated, and the wife doing some choice screaming when she thinks she’s trapped. Oh, and a mild surprise as to where they actually are…

We wind up with the two back at the convent, which Is Not What It Seems, and a slow-moving plot (very slow-moving plot) involving stranded aliens (whose motivation keeps changing and who combine total peacefulness with remarkable viciousness), the odd coincidence that this professor is probably the only person who can bring the aliens just what they need, some remarkably stupid scifi gobbledygook about what they’re doing (a time-velocity transfer, or something like that)…and an ending that I won’t give away, because it’s really not what you’d expect from a low-budget (but good cast) affair like this. Too bad Scott doesn’t seem to have any acting chops at all and Christopher Lee is phoning it in; some life in the acting might bring this up from $1.00.

The Fury of the Wolf Man (orig. La furia del Hombre Lobo), 1972, color. Jose Maria Zabalsa (dir.), Paul Naschy (who wrote it), Perla Cristal, Veronica Lujan, Miguel de la Riva, Jose Marco. 1:30 [1:23]

Ignore the sleeve description, which is a pretty standard “man gets bitten by werewolf, becomes werewolf, attempts to save himself” plot. This flick is a little different—a professor returns from a Tibetan expedition, in which everybody else died and he was attacked by a Yeti, with a wound on his chest. If the wound turns into a perfect pentagon, he’s to open a box to find a remedy—and the wound does indeed turn into a pentagon while he’s in bed with his wife.

As things progress, we have a woman doctor who spouts all sorts of nonsense about mind control from electrical waves and “chemotrodes” and her assistant, the beautiful and innocent girlfriend of an ace reporter; we have, as you’d expect, the professor turning all hairy at the full moon, presenting an odd mixture of attacking savagely, walking nonchalantly, and jumping about like a rabid gorilla; we have his wife being faithless—and her lover (both of them apparently under the doctor’s influence) cutting the professor’s brake line; we have bodies dug up from graves and returned from the semi-dead. And oh, so much more, including a whole denizen of experimental subjects who are either in a bacchanal, chained up, or sometimes both. Much of it is incoherent; the rest is mostly confusing.

Very badly dubbed, with frequently very bad dialogue. The acting’s mixed—now that I see that the hero (professor) also wrote the screenplay, maybe his mediocrity makes more sense. I assumed this was a German production (there’s a German paper in one scene), but apparently it’s a Spanish production set in Germany. Certainly a horror film, but mediocre at best. Adequate person-to-wolf special effects. Charitably, I’ll give it $1.25.

The Ticket of Leave Man, 1937, b&w. George King (dir.), Tod Slaughter, John Warwick, Marjorie Taylor, Frank Cochran, Robert Adair. 1:11.

That first credit, for Tod Slaughter, may tell you most of what you need to know—this is a Melodrama, with substantial quantities of ham provided by the ever-overacting villain himself, leer, evil laugh and all. But there’s more: Hawkshaw The Detective, which really should be rendered in Old English script…and, unfortunately, Melter Moss, a stereotypical money-lending, stolen-property-fencing but, mostly forging Jew, replete with chin-rubbing, big nose and Yiddish sayings, who doesn’t mind The Tiger’s murders as long as he makes money.

The story? Slaughter is The Tiger, the most villainous murderer and thief in all of London, given to garroting people either for gain or because he dislikes them. He desires a young singer—and manages to frame her fiancée in a forgery charge, sending him off to prison. When he returns, The Tiger has become head of a charity devoted to Ticket of Leave Men—that is, parolees, who of course are shunned by all honest folk. One thing leads to another and…well, there’s an ending. I’d give it $1 as a period piece, but the viciously anti-semitic role of Melter Moss pulls it down to $0.50—it debases an otherwise minor overacted melodrama.

Shadow of Chinatown, 1936, b&w. Robert F. Hill (dir.), Bela Lugosi, Bruce Bennett, Joan Barclay, Luana Walters, Mairuce Liu, Charles King, William Buchanan, Forrest Taylor. 1:11.

This one’s strange—and surprising. Chinese-American characters don’t—generally—show up as simple stereotypes, and the villains are Eurasian, most specifically the mad scientist who wants to wipe out Europeans and Asians and start his own new race. He also seems to have one of those magic television systems that can see anything anywhere, although in this case he needs to have hidden an oddly-named device in each room he wants to view (which, of course, is most everywhere). The mad scientist can also hypnotize almost anybody just by looking at them. Three guesses as to who plays the mad scientist…

The other primary character is a beautiful Eurasian woman who doubles as an agent for San Francisco Chinatown merchants—and a double agent for other merchants determined to put them out of business. She’s involved with the mad scientist until she realizes just how utterly evil he is…

Lots more plot, with a daring young reporter who wants to break out of the society pages and her irritable writer pseudoboyfriend. Oh, and an interesting plot point, late in the picture, when he informs her that he’s had her fired from the paper because, after all, his wife shouldn’t have a job. Really? In 1936? I also question the notion that you’d use a cruise ship to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 1936, but it does allow for some of that great shipboard action.

Hard to judge this one. The print’s a little choppy at times, the plot makes about as much sense as you’d expect, there’s a little more stereotyping than seems necessary and Lugosi’s henchfolks are ludicrous. Looking at IMDB, I see what’s actually happening: This was a serial, originally running 5 hours total (15 chapters, 20 minutes each), boiled down to a 71-minute flick. Serials rarely make sense when viewed all at once. For Lugosi fans, maybe $0.75.

Disc 4

This disc consists entirely of Alfred Hitchcock films reviewed elsewhere. I did not revisit any of them.

Sabotage.

Previously reviewed. $1.50.

The Ring.

Previously reviewed. $1.00.

Blackmail.

Previously reviewed. $1.25.

Young and Innocent.

Previously reviewed. $1.00

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