Cinema Sunday: The Colossus of New York (1958)

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Title: The Colossus of New York

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Writer: Thelma Schnee (screenplay), Willis Goldbeck (story)

Director: Eugène Lourié

Producer: William Alland

Starring: Ross Martin, Otto Kruger, Mala Powers, John Baragrey

Released: June 1958

MPAA: UR

 

After missing out on a movie review for the month of March, I thought it would be nice to double up for the month of April! So, in grand fashion, here comes a time-honored sci-fi classic from the greatest decade for the genre, the 1950s! Just do a quick search from this decade, and you’ll find a treasure trove of classics that still stand the test of time to this day.

This film had one name on its lobby card that is synonymous with great films of the genre and decade, in William Alland (the Creature from the Black Lagoon trilogy,  This Island Earth, It Came from Outer Space, etc.). Just his name alone meant you were going to get our monies worth. Throw in some cool special effects, and a cast that had the experience to make the film feel real, and you’ve got a fantastic film that deserves your attention (provided you haven’t already seen it!). Alright, let’s get to the film…

 

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The film begins with a man, Jeremy Spensser (Ross Martin),  and his son, Billy, (Charles Herbert) watching a film with Henry Spensser (brother/uncle) (John Baragrey). The boy remarks about the robotic machinery in a factory that the movie shows, but suddenly, Anne Spensser (Mala Powers), bursts into the room to congratulate her husband on winning the “International Peace Prize!” After a trip overseas to claim the award, Jeremy and his family return and his father, world-renowned brain surgeon, William Spensser (Otto Kruger), is at the airport waiting for them. After a quick reuniting, Jeremy heads across the parking lot to get the car. He’s run down by a truck though, and dies on the scene.

 

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William believes that his son’s brilliance needs to be preserved though, and that the world needs it so badly, that he keeps the brain alive! A friend of the family, Dr. John Robert Carrington (Robert Hutton), urges the family to move on after the accident. Meanwhile, Henry begins to fall in love with Anne. William then reveals to Henry that he’s kept the brain alive, and that he wants him to make a mechanical body for the brain (since he’s an expert in robotics). He’s reluctant at first, but eventually builds the robot.

 

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At first, the robot (Ed Wolff) exhibits some of the traits of Jeremy’s personality, but over a short period, we see the deterioration of those characteristics. Slowly, over time he begins to see himself as more of a device for the destruction of the world, than a provider/savior. In the beginning, the robot will follow simple commands, and doesn’t really resist being told what to do. At one point, the robot begs to be destroyed, but William won’t do it.

 

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William eventually thinks the plug needs to be pulled, but just as he attempts to do it, “Jeremy” hypnotizes him with his glowing eyes, and stops him. He then proceeds to roam around the estate. Within a minute though, he runs into his son, Billy. He talks to him and tells him he’s a good giant, and not a bad giant. Anne begins to call for Billy and search for him, and ten actually gets a glimpse (from far away) of the giant. Billy tells her that he’s a good giant, and not to be scared. Later that night, Henry is in the garden making out with Anne. Jeremy shows up and gets furious. Anne faints, and Jeremy picks her up and carries her back to her room. Back at the lab, there is a device that William made to use as a fail-safe to shut Jeremy down, but Jeremy finds it and smashes it to piece.

 

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The following night, Henry is downtown and realizes that Jeremy is going off the deep end. He calls and asks his father for money to get out-of-town, but Jeremy is there, and hypnotizes William, and tells him to instruct Henry to meet at a quiet location in the city. Henry shows up, and we see Jeremy emerge from the Hudson river! He casually stalks Henry and when the time is right, he uses his disintegration eye beams to turn him into ash! Jeremy then returns home and begins to destroy his father’s lab.

Can anyone stop this out of control giant that seems to be bent on destruction? Will it/he ever regain his will to help and not destroy? Watch the film to find out, people!

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

The film is a morality play but they don’t beat you over the head with it. Yeah it’s a bit corny by today’s standards, but it is quite endearing as well to think there was a time when the majority of people actually cared about each other. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox. Anyway, the acting was pretty good in this one. Otto Kruger seemed a little off at times, forcing things to the point of being so deliberate with his lines, it was awkward. Other than that, the acting was solid and should be admired.

The “giant,” was pretty cool, and the special effects were great. The flashing eyes for the hypnotic effect, and the disintegration beams! One more small thing that was sort of odd, was the music. Mostly just piano music, especially at the beginning and end, but it was strange. A beautiful leading lady (image below!), a science experiment gone wrong, and New York City as a back drop…what else could you ask for in a B movie?

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

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Cinema Sunday: The Door with Seven Locks (A.K.A. Chamber of Horrors- 1940)

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Title: The Door with Seven Locks

Distributor: Pathe Pictures (Warner Bros.)

Writers: John Argyle, Gilbert Gunn, Norman Lee (Edgar Wallace – novel)

Director: Norman Lee

Producer: John Argyle

Starring: Leslie Banks, Lilli Palmer, Romilly Lunge, Gina Malo

Released: October, 1940 (U.K.)

MPAA: PG-13 (est.)

 

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Hey folks! It’s nearly the last of the month, and I’m back with another movie review! When I set out to do movie reviews, I wanted to cover every good classic horror and sci-fi film I’d ever seen. I discovered that’s going to take a long time, but also I’ve discovered a few new ones along the way, like this one! Not many people outside of the United Kingdom will probably think of films of this genre produced there in the 1940s, as the Universal Studio films were dominating throughout the previous decade (and into the next).. But those who do that, will miss some absolute classic films that deserve your attention.

This little film doesn’t have any familiar faces/big names (to me), but that doesn’t hold it back one bit. A thriller with all sorts of intrigue, murder, torture, etc., will have you on the edge of your seat! Alright, let’s get down to the story…

 

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The film opens at a mansion, with an old man in bed, apparently near death. Dr. Manetta (Leslie Banks“The Most Dangerous Game”), tries to tell Lord Charles Francis Selford (Aubrey Mallalieu) that he’ll make it, but Selford knows his time has come. He announces to those present, that the majority of his fortune will go to his young son, John (Ross Landon). The other people in the room seem put off by that statement, but Selford doesn’t seem to care. He then reveals a box, which contains seven keys, and tells those in attendance that he’s appointed Edward Havelock (David Horne), as trustee of his estate. He says that in the event of John’s death, everything goes to June Lansdowne (Lilli Palmer – above right), his cousin. The keys are to be separated and are needed to open the seven locks on his tomb, which coincidentally is full of jewels!

Soon after, Lord Selford dies, and is buried. The keys are removed from the door with seven locks. Ten years pass, and we see Luis Silva (one of the men present during Lord Selford’s death scene- J.H. Roberts) writing a letter, but he’s interrupted by someone unseen. We next see him in an institution, and after others leave the room, he leaps up, and writes a letter to June, and throws it out of the window. A couple of delivery boys pick it up and take it to her home. One of the keys for the door with seven locks is inside the letter,  and he tells her to come to the hospital. Her roommate, Glenda Baker (Gina Malo) listens as June tells her about the key and letter. Glenda thinks Silva is just some old pervert that’s trying to hook up with June, so she tells her she wants to go with her to keep an eye on things.

 

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June arrives and is taken to Silva’s room by an orderly. Once inside the room, the orderly and a cop plot to try to get some info from the conversation the two in the room are about to have. As the two talk, we see that someone is peeking through the eyes of a painting on the wall. Just as Silva is about to tell her where the other keys are, a secret panel in the wall moves slightly aside, and a pistol fires a shot (silenced) at the old man. June calls for help, and when she reaches the hallway, a woman asks her what she’s doing. She explains, but the woman tells her no one has been in that room lately. As the two go back in, the body is gone. The two women argue over the validity of the situation, and then June runs to the police.

 

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At the police station, we see Inspector Sneed (Richard Bird), and Dick Martin (Romilly Lunge), talking as Martin has resigned and is leaving the police force. Just then June and Glenda run in to tell the story of their wild afternoon. Sneed and martin are skeptical, but seem to think there might be something to this story, so they agree to check out her story. Martin agrees to stay on a bit as an advisor (at this point it seems only because of an attraction to June). Glenda, June, and Martin return to the girl’s apartment, and find a burglar inside. Martin attacks him and the two fight. The “cop” from the nursing home scene then sneaks up behind Martin and knocks him unconscious. The girls hear the fighting stop, and see Martin on the floor. Eventually he comes to and they make an appointment to see the executor of the estate. The man thinks he has six of the keys but when he looks into the box where they are kept, he finds them missing!

 

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Now we understand why person or persons unknown are trying to kill June and get the last key! Will they succeed and get the jewels or will Inspector Sneed and Martin be able to stop them?!?!

 

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OK, here are my thoughts:

This neat little film might not have any of the industry giants from the horror/thriller genre, but it does have a certain charm about it that makes it a winner. The sets are incredible, the mood and atmosphere are great, and the acting very good. The only scene that seemed a bit lame was the fight scene between Martin and the burglar.

There are a few humorous moments that break up the darker ones, and they are well placed and hilarious, even by today’s standards. Slightly sexist, and stereotypical, but funny nonetheless especially when you consider it was 1940. The musical score was just slightly above average I’d say, but doesn’t bring the film down in the slightest. And not to be forgotten, Lilli Palmer is stunning in this film (image below)!

Get out there and grab this flick because it is more than deserving of a viewing!

 

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Click here for trailer!

 

 

The Project Pegasus Saga Part One (Marvel Two-in-One 53, 54, 55, 1979)!

As of now, you can buy a deluxe hardcover of this great story, but back in the day, you had to grab the single issues. One of my favorite off-beat books of all time is most certainly Marvel Two-in-One! The title almost always featured Ben Grimm, and this Jack Kirby creation is one of the best characters to spring from his incredible mind. When thrown-in with another character, Grimm really shines. His personality is often repressed slightly when issue after issue of Fantastic Four he was portrayed as just muscle (with exception of an issue here and there). His sense of humor really shined in these stories, and solidified him as one of Marvel’s greatest characters.

One of the names synonymous with Marvel Comic’s history is Mark Gruenwald (writer). His days as an editor, writer, and overall continuity cop are nothing short of legendary. Along with Ralph Macchio (writer), these two men gave us an epic story that endures! If you need two men to render a story, you might as well get John Byrne (pencils) and Joe Sinnott (inks)! Toss in names like Bob Sharen (colors), John Costanza (letters), Diana Albers (letters), George Pérez (cover pencils to 55), and Roger Stern (editor),  and the dream team is set!

 

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A Tribute to Paul Ryan (R.I.P.)!

After learning of the recent passing of artist, Paul Ryan, I thought it most fitting to give him a grand send-off from my blog. I’d become friends with him on Facebook, and thought he was a very genuine man who had good values, and was a very under-appreciated artist. I don’t own any of his DC work, only some of his Marvel jobs. So, this one will be all Marvel! The first three are from the back pages of Marvel Fanfare 52 (1990), the rest are from various issues of the Avengers (inks by Tom Palmer)!  Godspeed, Paul!

 

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SGT Fury and His Howling Commandos 166, 1981 “Play it Alone, Sam!”

Every once in a while, I feel the urge to spotlight a war/military comic. One of my favorites is Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos! I’ve always loved the concept of a rough and tumble team that could handle anything. The mixture of personalities, and different ethnic backgrounds was pretty cool. There were down times with humor and fun, but when it was time for action, they were ready! This issue in particular was good because not only was the regular cast there but also their CO (Commanding Officer), Happy Sawyer! In this story (a bit of a Casablanca rip off), we see Sawyer remembering a mission that saw him fighting everyone from Arabs, French, and Nazis!

Although sometimes war/military books can get redundant, this one (along with War is Hell) were always pretty good. This issue had Gary Friedrich (with changes by Allyn Brodsky) scripting, and we all know that Gary wrote some fantastic stuff back in the Bronze Age (Ghost Rider, Frankenstein). The interior pencils are by Dick Ayers, and inks by John Severin. Both of these gentlemen don’t get mentioned anywhere near as much as they should, so definitely check out there work and give them their due! Colors by Bob Sharen, and letters by Jean Izzo. The cover was by John Severin (originally Sgt Fury 72, 1969)!

 

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Machine Man 11, 1979 “Byte of the Binary Bug!”

The title “Machine Man,” was from the incredible mind of Jack “King” Kirby. As with virtually everything he touched, the book was great, but his run only lasted for the first nine issues. After that, it took a strange turn when Steve Ditko took over the artistic duties. This story brings in a techno-villain that seems to have what it takes to not only commit daring crimes, but also to stop Machine Man as well! A wild story with a tragic ending, as only Marvel in the Bronze Age can supply!

The man named Marv Wolfman (writer/editor), must have lived in the studio during the Bronze Age. Between the writing, plotting, and editing, his resumé is ridiculous. He’ll always be a legend for his collaboration with Gene Colan (Tomb of Dracula), but he was always a consistently good writer no matter what title. Steve Ditko (interior art and cover) needs no introduction or hyperbole thrown his way. If not for him, Spider-Man wouldn’t be the iconic character he is today, period. Michele Wolfman (colors) and John Costanza (letters), round out the creative team!

 

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Cinema Sunday: The Abominable Dr. Phibes

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Title: The Abominable Dr Phibes

Distributor: MGM/AIP

Writers: James Whiton, William Goldstein, Robert Feust (uncredited)

Director: Robert Feust

Producers: Ronald S. Dunas, Louis M. Heyward

Starring: Vincent Price, Joseph Cotten, Hugh Griffith, Terry Thomas, Virginia North

Released: April/May, 1971

MPAA: PG-13

 

 

 

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As you’ve probably noticed by now, I’m rolling with one movie review a month, plus scaling back on my comic book reviews as well. Everyday life is not permitting much else I’m afraid, but don’t fret, because the minute it does…alright, no promises, because I’ll probably just vacation more if/when that happens! But, for now we’ll be strolling down a dark lane that leads to a guy in a creepy mask that plays an organ. Yes once more, a Vincent Price film we’ll be featured! This is one of his later films (he’d already been acting in films since 1938!) but one of his best, no doubt about it!

This film is one that all Price fans must see if they already haven’t. It differs quite a bit from most of his other films because of the sets, the character’s demeanor, humor, and overall creepiness. Some of the scenes in this flick are quite disturbing, and the biblical references (the Ten Plagues), add a really crazy touch. Alright, no more hype, let’s get down to business!

 

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The film begins with a robed man playing an organ (roll credits). It’s rising from a lower level to a sort of ballroom. We see what looks like an orchestra as well, but we soon realize they are just automated figures. The robed figure begins to play conductor, and the automatons play music. A side door then opens, and a beautiful woman, Vulnavia (Virginia North) wearing a white gown appears. The two embrace, and strut towards the center of the ballroom, an begin dancing. Eventually, the woman heads up to the second level balcony. The robed man grabs a wrapped object, and they get into a car, and hit the road.

 

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Meanwhile, across town, an older gentleman is bedding down for the evening. He shuts off his lamp, and attempts to slumber. Outside of his home, the car with the robed man and Vulnavia pulls up. As the man sleeps, a skylight over his bed opens, and a cage is lowered into the room. The cage empties, and is then raised back through the skylight and it is shut. After hearing some rustling noises, the man awakens to find his bedroom infested with bats. And they must be starving because they attack and kill the old man (presumed now, but told shortly after).

 

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The car returns home, and the robed man returns to his organ playing. The following day, a butler discovers the old man dead, and the room covered in bats. Back at the robed guy’s house, he puts a necklace on a wax figure of the dead old guy, then melts it with fire. The police finally arrive at the home of the dead man, and they remark about the peculiar nature of the incident. Inspector Harry Trout (Peter Jeffrey) and Sgt. Tom Schenley (Norman Jones) conduct an investigation, and talk of another recent case where another doctor (apparently the dead guy as a surgeon), was killed in his library by a swarm of bees.

 

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Back at the creepy house, we see the robed guy at a table where he has pieces of a face made of rubber or some such material. He picks up a nose, then two ears, then grabs a wig. We then get to finally see Dr. Anton Phibes (Vincent Price), in all his glory (although it was believed he died in a car accident years earlier)! He goes back over to his organ, and begins to belt out a tune. Later, a cocktail party is buzzing with life. This isn’t a regular party though, as all the participants are wearing ornate masks. One man, Dr. Hargreaves (Alex Scott)  enters and is given a frog mask. He remarks at how he’s not a surgical doctor, but a psychiatrist…a “head shrinker,” if you will. We can now realize that the man giving him the mask is Phibes, and he gives a glaring look when the doctor makes the remark. He helps strap on the mask, and locks it. As Phibes watches, the mask begins to tighten,  and eventually crushes the skull of Dr. Hargreaves.Blood begins to pour out of the mask. Once again, Phibes puts a chain around the neck of a wax figure resembling the victim, then melts it with a torch.

 

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But, why is this disfigured man murdering doctors? And what does his dead wife have to do with these murders? All will be revealed when the time comes!

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

This film is nothing short of extraordinary. The sets are remarkable and allow ones mind to float off into a head trip of sorts. Bright colors, followed by darks, then throw in some lighting and wild music, and you’ve got something very unique. Of course, Price adds his immense talent to the film, and portrays this murderous figure as a sympathetic character that you end up feeling sorry for in the end.

Whether it was the sets, makeup, costumes, cast, or anything else, you can’t go wrong with this flick. It’s definitely one of Price’s masterpieces, and AIP (American International Pictures) should be commended as well for the films excellence. A seminal piece for sure, the film is one of the best of Price’s career and of the decade.

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

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Daredevil 124, 1975 “In The Coils of The Copperhead!”

Back again, and this time I have another shot of Daredevil for you! The silly villain this time around is called “Copperhead.” It seems that Daredevil has competition out there in the form of a person imitating a character from a pulp book from the 1930s. This man has no regard for life (sort of like the Punisher), and lays down judgement on wrongdoers all over the city. It’s up to Mr. Murdoch to try to stop this renegade, if he can! Copperhead is no joke…OK, he is but he does have poison tipped darts that he shoots out of his gun, and a diamond hard mask to protect his identity! Plus, we get some political drama with Foggy as well in this issue!

I’m not quite sure why, but the issue is written by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman (he was the steady writer around this time, and Wein the editor). No matter though, as both guys gives us the straight forward dialogue you came to expect from this title in the Bronze Age. The artistic team is one that I’m torn over. Gene Colan (pencils) is without a doubt my favorite penciler of all time. He’s so uniquely talented, you’ve got to love the guy’s work. The inks are provided by Klaus Janson. His work with Frank Miller on Daredevil in the 1980s is fantastic, as is his solo work. He just doesn’t seem like the best match for Colan’s pencils. The colors are provided by Michele Wolfman, and the letters by Joe Rosen. We also get a great cover by the team of Gil Kane (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks)!

 

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Daredevil 129, 1975 “Man-Bull in a China-Town!”

Has there ever been a better title for a story than this one? Exactly. Lame villains are what make the world go ’round, as we all know. Daredevil has seen his fill of these wacky characters, and it’s why I love this title during the Bronze Age! The book got way too serious for me once Frank Miller took over (even though, I still enjoy some of those stories). But wacky stories involving characters  like the “Man-Bull,” are just too awesome to not spotlight. The man without fear versus a guy that’s part man, part bull…what’s not to like?

Seeing the name Marv Wolfman (writer/editor), at the helm always puts me at ease. Whether it was Tomb of Dracula, Batman, or Crisis on Infinite Earths, the guy gets it done. Not the most well known tandem in comics, but Bob Brown (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks), do hold their own and give us some nice visuals. Michele Wolfman (colors) and Joe Rosen (letters), round out the interior creative team! As usual, we get a cool cover, and the team of Rich Buckler (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks) are responsible!

 

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Captain America 244, 1980 “The Way of All Flesh!”

Taking a peek at a comic book that gets overlooked because it fits between two legendary runs (Englehart/S. Buscema and Stern/Byrne). Sometimes people forget or just out right malign certain batches of issues because they aren’t widely regarded as gems. There’s a huge downside to that though, as many never get to see books like this one. The second issue of a two-parter, we have a sort of a “monster gone amok” story. But, not just all action, there are some great panels of emotion in this issue as well!

The names attached to this book are some of my favorites. Roger McKenzie (writer- click here for an interview that Roger recently gave on the Charlton website), is probably most famous for his excellent run on Daredevil, or his horror work, but don’t sleep on his other stuff, because the guy knows how to write any kind of story. Don Perlin (pencils) is one of those under-appreciated guys that I hope some day gets the recognition he deserves. His work on Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night are super cool. An artist that you don’t see much for Marvel (that I know of) in the way of inking another penciler, is Tom Sutton. Like McKenzie, he’s probably most noted from his horror work, and that genre definitely suited him best (but he did do a solid job here). Mark Rogan (letters), George Roussos (colors), and Jim Salicrup (editor), round out the interiors. The cover is by the team of Frank Miller and Al Milgrom!

 

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