SciFi Classics 50-movie Pack, Disc 3

There’s a programming problem on side two of this disc—one that should become obvious as you read the mini-reviews. Other than that, this group is interesting: two fairly good black-and-white movies, two mediocre color flicks, two with explicit science aspects, two “sci-fi” only in the broadest definition. I believe one or two of these had the honor of appearing on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. What more could you ask?

Kong Island, 1968, color, Roberto Mauri (dir.), Brad Harris, Esmeralda Barros, Aldo Cecconi. 1:32 [1:24]

Turns out the original title is Eva, la Venere selvaggia and this was made in Italy; the sleeve title (and the way it was promoted in the U.S.) is King of Kong Island. The sleeve description is also pretty far off, as it involves a “descendant of King Kong.” Basic plot: Mad scientists implanting control devices into gorillas to create an unstoppable army; group goes hunting for some fabled sacred monkey, who turns out to be an “ape girl” (always topless, with hair that always stays strategically in place); way too much plot ensues. Not great, not terrible; the “Italian disco” music (as an IMDB review puts it) is, well, interesting for this movie. Unfortunately, either the print or the digitizing stinks: soft colors, fuzzy images. $1.

Bride of the Gorilla, 1951, b&w, Curt Siodmak (dir.), Raymond Burr, Barbara Payton, Lon Chaney, Jr. 1:10 [1:05]

This time, IMDB gets the plot dead wrong. Raymond Burr plays the foreman of a jungle plantation who doesn’t exactly kill the owner but causes his death, then marries his beautiful widow—but a crone servant places a curse on him (actually sneaking him drinks laced with hallucinogens, as far as I can see) that causes him to run into the jungle and believe that he’s turned into a monster gorilla. Filmed fairly cleverly: You never really know whether Burr is turning into a monster or just believes he is. Naturally, things end badly. The IMDB review is savage; I thought it was a modest little psychological thriller, with (an obviously much younger) Burr doing a great job as a heavy. Siodmak, a fine writer, also wrote the movie. (Oops: The first-screen IMDB plot outline gets it wrong, but if you click on “more,” you get a completely accurate plot summary. Strange.) Decent print with some gaps. $1.

Attack of the Monsters, 1969, color, Noriaki Yuasa (dir.), Christopher Murphy. 1:22 [1:20]

Once again, the IMDB plot outline is wrong but the summary’s right. The original title here is Gamera tai daiakuju Giron, and that may tell you a lot about the film: Gamera! The plot is—well, there’s a lot of it. After a Japanese scientist explains why there can’t be life anywhere else in the Solar System, three kids spot a flying saucer (a small one); two of them get in, and it takes off—flying them off to counter-Earth, a planet in the same orbit but on the other side of the Sun.

Gamera, who at this point is “the good monster turtle who loves kids and defends Japan from bad monsters,” comes along part way, partly in his flying-saucer mode. The kids are convinced that the people on this other planet must be very advanced, with no wars or accidents (“accidents” may be odd translation), but they’re wrong: all that’s left are two women who want to eat the kids’ brains so they can return to Earth with all the knowledge they need to pass as humans. (I said there was a lot of plot.) Oh, and this counter-earth suffers from quite a few monsters of its own, with the Ginsu Monster acting as a defender for the evil women. (His name’s actually Guiron, but his characteristic is that his nose is a huge knife, and he attacks by whacking at things just like a big Ginsu Knife.) Gamera, of course, saves the day. The scientists and cops, who cannot accept the possibility of a flying saucer (small enough for Gamera to carry it back to Earth in his mouth), find Gamera’s appearance every day. The problem here is that Gamera is a Good Guy in this movie, as opposed to… Decent print, and apparently 1:20 is the full U.S. release time. $1.

Gammera the Invincible, 1966, b&w, Sandy Howard (dir. for U.S. portion), Brian Donlevy, Albert Dekker, Diane Findlay. 1:26.

Two “m”s or one? IMDB says two (for this movie), the sleeve says one. This comes off as a U.S.-Japanese coproduction, but apparently is one of the more elaborate cases of adding U.S. footage to an existing Japanese monster flick, presumably Daikaiju Gamera, the first in the series (1965), and changing the plot as needed. Smoother than most such cases, but I do wonder about the Japanese ambassador who, alone among all the dubbed voices, has an absurdly extreme case of “sounding rike some berieve they talk rike.”

Here’s the thing: Gamera/Gammera is no hero in this flick, in which the jet-propelled/fire-breathing/fire-eating turtle emerges from 200 million years’ hibernation under the ice when U.S. jets shoot down a Russian jet over Alaskan airspace that’s carrying a 4 megaton atomic bomb (which, as with any atomic bomb, goes off immediately upon impact when the plane’s shot down, presumably triggered by being shaken up badly…) Gamera cuts a swath of destruction through portions of Japan, saves one kid’s life (from destruction the turtle caused), and winds up being shot off to Mars in a rocket. What happens between this flick and the first on the side? Well, the movies aren’t good enough for me to bother finding out…but this one’s a little better than I expected. Very good print, and almost sounds like stereo sound (but probably isn’t). $1.50.

For anyone who’s keeping track and wonders why it’s been so long since the last review posting, I have two comments:

  • Get a life. But you probably don’t exist; nobody can be paying that kind of attention.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Specifically, the commentary on five episodes in Season 7, which I left until we’d watched all the episodes. I watch commentary the same as I’d watch cheesy old movies: on the treadmill.

Now back to TV movies…(ah, but disc 4 has Santa Claus andConquers the Martians! I’ can hardly wait…)

2 Responses to “SciFi Classics 50-movie Pack, Disc 3”

  1. Brian says:

    Isn’t it _Santa Claus *Conquers* the Martians_? Well worth watching at Christmas. Does your set have _Attack of the Mushroom People_? That’s a good ‘un, too.

  2. walt says:

    Brian, Yes, it is–I’ve fixed it. I have no idea whether your other title is there; I don’t look that far ahead. (I do know that the disc after next has four Hercules flicks, each with a different Hercules.)