Monday, September 28, 2020

The King and Four Queens (1956)

Dan Kehoe is a mystery man from out of town, who stops by the nearly empty settlement Wagon Mount, homeplace of the infamous McDade brothers. Three of them died in a flaming shootout with a posse after a gold heist, but one is suspected to have escaped, and the gold was never found. Since then their four widows stay at the ranch with their bitter mother-in-law. Kehoe's arrival sets them all on edge. The mother is skeptical but curious, all the widows are curious, and hungry for the gold...

The King and Four Queens is an entertaining western, with a fun spin on things. Rather than being your typical fighting between noble lawmen and dastardly outlaws, the film is more of a romantic intrigue story. It's an effective way of grabbing your interest, and the film always keeps you on your toes. Where is the gold? Which of these women knows? Are any of them for real and innocent, or are they all after the loot?

This is most definitely a character piece, and in that area it excels. Dan Kehoe is a mysterious lead with motives that make you curious. He has a charm that helps him survive the movie, and not get shot instantly by the irate Ma.

The women are sympathetic to a degree, cooped up in this shitty ranch with a borderline abusive mother-in-law. But then again, they could always leave if they really wanted to. But they're greedy for the money, so they stay. It's a neat dynamic.

All four of them fancy a ride with Mr. Kehoe, and I don't mean on the horse. As for which of them does, well it's the girl who shows instant hostility towards him. You just know they're gonna be the ones to end up together in the end!

Ma McDade comes across as a total bitch most of the time, but thankfully the movie does see fit to flesh out her character. Despite her preachiness, she does admit that she fucked up in raising her sons, and admits totally to how they spent their lives. That kind of awareness is appreciated, and makes her more well-rounded.

The film always moves at a good pace, and despite its minimalistic setting and cast, it never drags.

Where does the movie falter though? In its conclusion, which is where I started to get confused! I lost track of who was who, and everything just washed right over me.  I was also a bit disappointed with the resolution for all the other women. After the ringing of the bell, they're never seen or heard from again, and all their character arcs are left unfinished. I'm not asking for extensive conclusions, but at least a little resolution woulda been nice, like the ladies finally deciding to leave, and Ma accepting the death of all her sons.

The movie portrays a neat slice of bygone western Americana. Although it does rile me up to see these people cook scones and call them biscuits! Damn Yankees!

The score is pretty minimal, probably just routine archive music for a western. The bulk of the soundtrack is made up by the cast singing a few ditties, including several mini reprisals of Wish I was in Tennessee, and the Sweet By and By, among others.

Clark Gable cuts a rugged older man, and you can totally see why all the ladies' panties would drop at the sight of him, especially after being on their own for so long. Some men can't still be the romantic lead into their twilight years, but Gable was an exception. Funnily enough he's actually 14 years older than Jo Van Fleet, who plays the mother! In fairness though she was only 42, and made to look older. She apparently did that a lot.

The women all deliver good performances. A couple of them do blend together, but none do poorly. The most distinctive actress here is Barbara Nichols, known for her screechy and childlike voice. She's not as annoying here as in other movies (which I put down to better direction), though she still might be an acquired taste. The best performance of the lot is from Jo Van Fleet

The movie is shot all on location, and is neat! The collapsing old town is a great setting, and the wide expanses of orange and green look neat, with the cliffs providing

The King and Four Queens is a neat little picture. If you're looking for a western that's a little different, but still feels like your typical oater, this is worth checking out, especially if you like Clark Gable...

The Big Show-Off (1945)

Sandy Elliott is a shy nightclub pianist, pining for the resident singer June. After an altercation with a belligerent customer leads to Sandy knocking him flat (to his own astonishment most of all), the nightclub owner Joe has an idea. He tells wrestling enthusiast June that Sandy is secretly the masked fighter known as The Devil. She is thrilled to hear this, already having been holding a torch for the young palooka, but as the real Devil's antics in the ring get increasingly violent, it seems Sandy's newfound relationship might be on the rocks...

If you're looking for an enjoyable golden age picture, look no further than this. In only an hour, The Big Show-Off introduces its core cast, conceit, and obstacles, all with enough time to spare for a few musical numbers. Many derided these pictures as 'Poverty Row', but not only did they rarely look cheap (it's hard to when you're always working within your means), but these producers knew time management well. They could get across a lot in a short amount of time.

The plot is a simple one in the best way, rooted in mix-ups and false pretenses. It's amusing watching as poor Sandy gets roped into one misunderstanding to the next. With each successive lie, you think "Oh, he is so dead!".

Everything culminates in a great conclusion. My only concern was there was increasingly little time left for a denouement, especially regarding June. But even though it was very short, and Sandy's probably given himself the biggest criminal record this side of Michigan, it's a funny and sweet ending.

The dialogue in The Big Show-Off is frequently hilarious, with lines like
"How far do you think Romeo would have got with Juliet if he kept his kisser shut"
"But-but-but-but"..."Stop impersonating a motorboat."
And there are amusingly out of context (that includes for Sandy) lines like "Sandy, why didn't you tell me you were The Devil?", and "To think the only way I can impress a girl is to tell her that I'm the no-goodnik down there who's choking innocent Bulgars to death!"

The characters here are fun. Sandy is a likeable lead, even if he is too meek for his own good. June is a good love interest, and I liked that she actually knew what was going on with Sandy early on. She knows he's in love with her, and is simply waiting for him to make the move. Why she hangs out with Wally though is anyone's guess.

I liked the sense of community at the club, like how random sexy dancers know Sandy by name, and are always on friendly terms with him. He's never ignored or treated as a lowly peon. And Joe is legitimately a good boss despite his crusty and surly exterior. Another scene I enjoyed what when Sandy and June are performing a song and all the various musicians in the building decide to join in.

Wally meanwhile is a real asshole! An MC at the club, he's constantly trying to put the moves on June, and uses his position to try and keep 'undesirable' men away from her. He's swept aside once Sandy gets some points, but pops his head up every now and then with a snide remark, or to make trouble. There's a point in the climax where he really tries to mess things up, and some comeuppance woulda been nice, but oh well.

Beloved everyman Arthur Lake makes his way through The Big Show-Off   smoking unlit cigarettes  and nabbing girls way out of his league. All the best parts of the 1940s! Dale Evans is sweet and spunky, works out adorably, and pronounces Melbourne correctly! It's the little things that really count sometimes. The rest of the cast is enjoyable, from Lionel Stander's coarse but faithful boss, and Paul Hurst's artistically minded yet violent wrestler The Devil, as well as Marjorie Manners's spunky friend.

The Big Show-Off is a fun picture, and well worth watching on a rainy afternoon when all you need is a nice simple comedy to spend the time...

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Missing Corpse (1945)

Henry Kruger is a newspaper chief with a problem. A rival paper run by duplicitous crook Andy McDonald has printed a libelous story about Kruger's daughter, and the angry father swears revenge. With the event proving stressful, Kruger is convinced to go on a holiday for once. Dissatisfied with how his family mostly ignores him, he goes alone with his coworker, but unbeknownst to him McDonald has been murdered, and hidden in his car...

The Missing Corpse is a very fun movie that is liable to piss off many viewers, as it lies to its audience]! It begins in a certain way, setting things up and making you think the story's gonna go in one direction, before suddenly veering into another one entirely. Thankfully this is otherwise a good movie in many ways, as I'll get into.

The setup in The Corpse Vanishes is very good! It's got a good roster of characters, from the = newspaper chief, to his family, colleagues, the villains, and more. Everyone is well defined, and serves a purpose. I was surprised at the characterisation here, and the level of effort and detail it goes into! Really unexpected!

The Corpse Vanishes seems to be setting up a frame-up of Henry that his family have to solve. I was expecting his daughter and the mistrusted journalist to be the heroes, investigating the case until they find the right suspect, he'd prove his worth to the grouchy older man, and it would end with a marriage or something. However, those two characters barely appear, and the father is the main character.

The plot here is predominately a comedy of errors. Henry soon discovers the body, and hides it. Then he figures out how to dispose of it when someone else discovers and hides it trying to protect him. The story is a constant stream of people discovering the body, thinking Henry is the murderer, and so on, and it starts out funny. Unfortunately the movie never graduates from this beat until the last few minutes. It's amusing enough seeing the body go from one hiding place to the next, before it shocks the new visitors, but the last couple of times it happens it feels a bit much, especially since there's less than 10 minutes left.

The climax is a bit of a jumbled hodgepodge, that's basically a repeat on everything we've seen before, only more confusing since everyone is now involved. At least the story is resolved satisfactorily, and the movie ends on an amusing note.

There's never an actual mystery on display here. We know the whole time who killed McDonald, and it was about halfway through the film when I realised what this meant. If we know who the killer is, that means the whole movie is gonna focus on Kruger concealing the body, right? Right! I was a little annoyed at how much this dominated the movie when there could have been = mystery, and discovering the truth! As it is we never really get that.

The comedy here is mostly effective. The movie is a bit of a dark comedy, although by 1940s standards. It certainly does come across as a teensy bit morbid, but always with a silly grin, and is never truly dark, certainly not by today's standards.

The actors all do fine jobs here, including genre stalwarts such as Frank Jenks, Paul Guilfoyle, and Ben Welden. J Edward Bromberg is a fun lead, and carries the movie really well. At first I didn't recognise him, but I've actually seen him in a few movies! He was unreognisable until I saw pictures of him without a moustache,   Apparently he was in talks to become the new Charlie Chan after Warner Oland! That could've been interesting, though I'm not entirely sold.

The Missing Corpse is a fun and fast-paced movie. It may not be the most creative out there, but it entertains for an hour, which is good enough. Just be aware what you're getting into and know what to expect and you should be fine...

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Her Favourite Patient (1945)

40 45 58

Hedy Fredericks is a doctor going back to her hometown for a few days, making a few new friends along the way. She helps out her uncle at his practice till things are less busier, but she's eager to leave as soon as possible. Things get complicated when a man Hedy kept mistaking for a childhood friend now finds himself determined to keep her here to romance...

Her Favourite Patient (also known as Bedside Manner) is an entertaining rom-com. Hedy is a fun and intelligent lead to follow through these various shenanigans, dramas, and romantic entanglements. She's got spunk, and carries the movie very well! The movie is quite funny, with plenty of amusing dialogue, neat characters, and [amusing] touches, like how she refers to Uncle Doc.

The plot is cheesy, but effective, and never makes any serious missteps. We've got a pretty traditional romance, made up of a duo who can't stand each-other, naturally. We actually get plenty of time for the two lovebirds to get to know each-other before the romance begins, which I partially credit the movie for! Only partially because of how it turns out (more on that below). The climax is inevitable, in the way you look forward to.

If it's guilty of anything, it's trying to do a bit too much, or perhaps just not balancing everything correctly. We've got this doctor back in her hometown, helping her uncle and new friends, recognising old schoolmates, and having a romance to boot! And that's just her character! Not that the others have reams of story or anything, but it all adds up. To the point where the titular engagement, the main thrust of the film, doesn't begin until the 45 minute mark! Morgan doesn't even become Hedy's patient until very nearly the last act!

The movie also feels a little rushed at times, which seems like a symptom of the above problem. With not enough time to have set up a romance, Morgan goes from having spent half the movie cold and hostile towards Hedy to having a sudden infatuation, strong enough for him to race after her at a 100 miles an hour and fake injuries after a car accident in the process!

Her Favourite Patient has quite an extensive cast. First and foremost is Hedy, who's likeable and intelligent! You really beleive she's a doctor, and this is always in play. She even shows medical smarts after Morgan's supposed head injury! Morgan is a fun guy, just trying to get it on with his date and this strange woman keeps messing it up by mistaking him for someone else. Though his behaviour is a little rushed here and there. The three Smith's are a fun addition, and appear more than Morgan does for the first half of the movie! They're not the deepest or richest of characters, but I liked them, and was sad to see them leave/go before the movie was over. I guess the writer new he needed to jettison someone to finally focus on the plot.

Hedy's uncle is a fun presence, always trying some plan or another to get her to stay, and sweep away his tide of patients. It is a little weird and perhaps creepy that he is so obsessed with getting his niece to stay in this dullsvillle town, and by guiding her to bang her patient at that/to boot, but it's never a big deal.

Stella is an amusing dame, sarcastic, but likeable, and her story gets a nice cap-off. Briefly appearing Russian pilot Tanya Punchinskaya is adorable, and I wished she'd got more to do! Lastly, there is Lola and George, who were...people? I was a little unsure who they were. They kinda melted among the sea of names and faces, not helped by everyone looking the same. I'm quite frankly unsure if I even got some of these names right! And I haven't even mentioned all the characters yet!

Something I like about the movie is how it's not only about a female doctor, but it never makes a big thing about it. No-one groans, gives a side eye, or complains about women. We also see a female soldier from Russia, and likewise there are no cracks about ovaries making her a poor pilot or anything. Nor any Russia bashing either! I guess because this was the height of the war, when Russia was a firm ally in the war. It was this same reason that The Drums of Fu Manchu never got a sequel, because Hollywood wanted to keep on China's good side, and worried a serial with a Chinese supervillain might upset them.

 I like the touch that Hedy does actually know deep down the diagnosis is barmy, because she wants to, as the movie says. It adds further credence to her intelligence

The actors here all do fine jobs. No bad performances, and while they should've stressed about getting different hairstylists or wardrobes, everyone manages to entertain, with Ruth Hussey, Charles Ruggles, and Claudia Drake being highlights.

Her Favourite Patient is a fun time! A bit cluttered, and it beats around the bus for longer than it should, but it's still more than worth a watch.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)

In a small country town, strange things are happening. Mysterious lights float in the sky, unknown crafts go 'nnningalingalingaling', and space men walk the streets! The only witnesses are the local kids at make-out point, and since the police won't believe them, they have to take matters into their own hands. Can they stop the invasion of Earth all on their own?...

Invasion of the Saucer Men is one of the more fondly remembered B-movies to come out of the 50s. It's tongue in cheek approach is endearing to many, and it frequently tops favourite lists. As for my opinion, it lies somewhere in the middle. I think it's at the least an entertaining movie for sure, and hits a lot of the spots, but also felt lacking on other ways.

A lot of the movie is people faffing about a couple of rural fields for an hour, but that's not too much of a problem. The movie never pretends to be anything greater than a small-scale picture, and at only 69 minutes it's hardly drawn out. My main problem is that the movie doesn't go far enough. On one hand I admire that it respects the genre enough to play it relatively straight despite its sense of humour, and never becomes too farcical, but I feel it could've done so much more.

Unfortunately the aliens also don't do enough. We never get a sense that this is an invasion, just a couple of intergalactic assholes running amok in a single country town. They have a body count of 1 man (and only because he was already pissed), and a cow.

The characters here take the lion's share of the screentime, and they're an alright bunch. Johnny is a likeable 'kid'. He's considered by the adults as an untrustworthy roughneck, which is hilarious considering he is the most straight-laced young gentleman imagineable. He even wears a suit and tie everywhere he goes! And he's only 16! 'Supposedly'. His girlfriend Joan is cute and feisty. Your typical 1950s girl but with enough life in her to stand out.

These two are quite cavalier with alien life though! They're distraught at the prospect of having run over a person...but as soon as they realise it was an alien, they couldn't care less, and don't see why it's a crime. It's because killing a little green man from Venus is still classed as homicide on most U.S. divisions! 

The remainder of the cast is filled out by the various authority figures (alias, squares!), and two visiting joe bloggs from out of town, who serve as narration and comic relief. They do their jobs well, though one gets killed surprisingly early. It's a bummer, since he contributed most of the comedy, but the movie does handle it well at least, and the impact it has on his friend's character is well-done.

Last up are the other teenagers, who spend all night making out, and not even massive explosions faze them for more than 5 seconds. And it's a good thing too, because their mere presence in the make-out lane (i.e. a grumpy farmer's cow field) is all that's needed to ultimately save the day, in what could be a fun or unsatisfying climax, depending on your opinion.

The dialogue here is pretty funny.
"I wouldn't wanna hold back the wheels of progress. Or is it the progress of a big wheel.".
"Duke just said he saw a flying saucer." "Only one? Nobody's got a right to brag these days unless they see at least six. And in different colours!"
And the bizarre "I expected to be frightened on my wedding night, but nothing like this!"

The acting is all competent. Steven Terrell and Gloria Castillo are good leads, while Frank Gorshin and Lyn Osborn play off well with each-other. Killing Gorshin only halfway through is a terrible mistake though!

The effects  are great! The alien costumes are rightly iconic, and are used just sparingly enough to keep the mystery and tension, and appear visibly enough to satisfy. The spaceship is alright, and the disembodied hand that plagues the heroes moves convincingly enough.

Overall, Invasion of the Saucer Men has its issues, and for me it didn't deliver all I feel it could've, but it's still worth a watch if you enjoy b-movies. This one is definitely up there, and worth checking out...

The Hideous Sun Demon (1958)

Gil McKenna is an alcoholic scientist, whose hangover caused a radioactive accident. This new isotope seems to have no lasting effect on Gil, until he's exposed to the sun, and he begins to transform into a lizard man. All Gil has to do is stay at home, and let doctors run some tests, but feeling antsy, he is compelled to continue going out on the town, with disastrous effects. With each transformation, Gil becomes more monstrous, and it takes longer for him to turn back...

The Hideous Sun Demon is a minor B-movie classic, standing the test of time as a memorable monster feature. As far as movies go, it's pretty decent. Entertaining, thrilling, silly, and takes itself completely seriously. It's over before you know it, meaning it's never a time waster, which is always something good you can say about a movie.

Whether or not the film lives up to the grandiosity of its title is up for debate (and no harm if it doesn't, since many b-movies ran afoul of the same issue), but Hideous Sun Demon at least manages to succeed by its own terms. It never tries biting off more than it can chew, and the result is a story that isn't the most high-concept in the world, but works as a lower key effort.

Being only an hour isn't necessarily a guarantee that a movie will feel short, but thankfully that's the case here. This is well paced. Despite some characters only appearing intermittently, there never feels like too much of a gap between their scenes (minus a large one of over 20 minutes!).

The message is a surprising one for such a film. Usually they had warnings against radioactivity, man's inhumanity to man, or the fear of the unknown (i., dem blasted Commies), but in The Hideous Sun Demon, the main brunt of the message is one portraying alcoholism! It may be frustrating seeing Gil continue to get chance after chance to make things right, yet squander them each time just because he wants another shot, yet in that same way it's probably an effective portrayal of the disease. If transforming into a lizard monster can be seen as an acceptable risk to take, it goes to show just how desperate such people can get.

Gil may be a dickhead, but he is quite the multi-dimensional character. Because of this we do sympathise for him being stuck in this predicament, even though it's all his fault. His better scenes are those of vulnerability, and his attempted suicide. He's all set to end things quite early on by jumping off a cliff, until he sees some teens down below, having fun on the beach. Unwilling to disturb them, he steps back and returns home.

Where I had no sympathy for Gil though was in his constant whining over how there's nothing doctors can do for him, "NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING!". Dude, even if there isn't, you can at least let them try! What've ya got to lose? Ideally you should be staying home anyway, so just read a book for the next few weeks, and if they find a cure, great, and if not, at least you all tried.

The fact that he's such an unfaithful louse rarely comes up, and I wished his girlfriend had a larger role. She was a little too passive for me, and could've stood to smack Gil on the side of the head a lot more.

As is the norm with b-movies, Hideous Sun Demon has some hilarious science. This is best demonstrated in the scene when a doctor shows a picture of a tarantula and declares "This used to be a grasshopper", with a straight face.

Aside from being the lead, Robert Clarke was also the producer and director, and he stands up to the task. The film looks surprisingly good! It masks its low budget with down-to-earth sets, and great on-location work, including a pretty neat finale at a gas refinery. Another thing the film really nails is the use of sunlight, which is impressive for a black and white picture!

Being a low-budget independent production, many of his friends and family populated the cast, including his sweet cousin. They all do decent enough jobs, with no bad performances in the lot.

The dialogue is pretty funny in places, in that cheesy monster movie way:
"Remember, whiskey and soda mix, not whiskey and science."
And the closing moral coda of "Don't cry Ann. Perhaps you should cry. The rest of us can only hope his life was not wasted." Well which is it, man?

The Hideous Sun Demon isn't the best of the 1950s b-movie cycle, but hey, they are b-movies after all, so you expect them to be flawed in some way. At the end of the day what's important is, did it entertain you? Yes! And does it teach a good moral? Sure! If you're predisposed to turning into a lizard man, by all means keep drinking, but for God's sake, have the booze sent up to your room!...

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Thousand and One Lives of Doctor Mabuse (2020)

Indie studio Hollinsworth has done a few projects in recent years, from short films, to spooky features that look quite interesting! Also a short that resembles the hilarious Family Wolff (still holds up!). One recent bit of news gave me a start though, and like poor haunted Inspector Lohmann, I received]  a similar nightmare...There was going to be a third Doctor Mabuse film in their series!

It's been some time since the brave and noble Inspector Lohmann finally killed Doctor Mabuse, the arch-criminal who terrorised the city. But Lohmann still finds himself haunted by the memory of the madman, and worries if he truly died that day, or if this is simply another of his twisted mind-games...

2013's Dr. Mabuse and its sequel Etiopomar were not exactly well received by me. I found them terribly made, directed, acted, sound[ed], scored, edited, lit, and everything else under the sun. They were also very disrespectful to the source material, I felt. They use a lot of superficial elements, but the plots range from = to just plain weird! They're almost unrecognisable as a part of the franchise, and I strongly urge you to steer clear of them if you can help it!

The Thousand and One Lives of Doctor Mabuse (try saying that when you're drunk!) is a pretty pointless affair. The previous film had wrapped up the story completely! The Doctor was dead! Utterly! No body swapping to save him this time. Not only that, but literally every other character was dead too, save for a select few in a baffling epilogue. I was intrigued to learn how this third entry would explain how on earth anything could still happen in this series after that conclusion, and after having seen the film, I can tell you the movie doesn't even bother. It instead moves its focus to something entirely different, going back to Lohmann of the first movie.

On one hand I'm hardly sorry to see all that go, since none of it had a place in a = film, but on the other hand, if the previous movies went to the trouble of setting all that = up, it's a bit weird for it to be ignored, especially when that = ended on a (meaningless) cliffhanger.

a lot of the problems from the previous  are still present, not least of which being that everyone still mispronounces Mabuse. -ah! It ends with an -ah! Mabus-ah! Christ, I don't mean to harp, but simply watching one of the old movies tells you immediately how to say it, so not knowing how when you're making your own entry gives away that you've never actually watched them.

The story here is low-key. There's no grand plan or large roster of characters, nor even any =. The focus is entirely on Inspector Lohmann, and his lingering trauma about Mabuse. The majorioty of the film is a two-man play where he's strapped down in a chair speaking to a projection of Mabuse's head. The latter constantly asserts that he's not dead, and that reality is not what you know it, etc, while Lohmann's dialogue is just as predictable.

This structure is somewhat derivative of this team's previous Adam Sera short, but as far as the concept goes, this isn't a bad =. Got more than a few holes and inconsistencies, but not terrible, and if nothing else, it has a proper ending, which I appreciated greatly. We get an alright insight into Lohmann's mind,

Getting to the dialogue, it's not horrible, and some of the exchanges are quite good. But a few too many exchanges boil down to "You're lying" "Am I?", often with those same words (or variations upon) repeated. It started to get on my nerves a bit, and I found Lohmann to be a bit of a weak protagonist for not simply tuning the Doctor out. Close your eyes and think of Boney M, you'll be fine!

I like the psychological take on the characters, though I miss seeing a straightforward stories of Mabuse being a criminal, messing with the stock exchange or topping a bank. Aside from killing people, he hasn't actually committed a single crime in any of these movies! No counterfeit, no drug dealing, and no kidnapping!

acting = Nathan   The deceased Linden Chiles gets another chance to act, thanks to some unused footage from what I assume to be an = scene from the first movie. That was quite a surprise, and it fit well.

The direction here is unremarkable, and the largely CGI nature honestly makes it a bit hard to have any opinion of the direction. All we have to judge are a few swirly shots of Lohmann, staggering around a town square, or standing in his apartment.

Visually this is in the same boat as its predecessors, but improved. They're still filming largely in a green screen in =, but things aren't as =. The CGI is pretty cheap, but the black and white scheme alleviates this a little. As for the scenes in reality, modern apartments/houses still look ill-fitting for the tone and world presented here, but for a short like this I'll overlook it. Lastly, the outdoors scenes are pretty effective thanks to the complete absence of anyone else. It gives a good atmosphere.

Perhaps my biggest criticism of this film is that I feel it's a little too short. The idea perhaps could have been given another 15 or 20 minutes to really =, keep us in suspense, and explore interesting ideas about our current world.

The Thousand and One Tales isn't a movie that needed to exist. Its story is =, and as an addition to this series, as well as the greater Doctor Mabuse canon, it's pretty unnecessary. However, it's not entirely horrible, and has got at least a few good qualities, that save it from being on par with its two predecessors. This in no way scratches that fix for a real Mabuse film, but it's definitely the best = would ever make of

Dracula 3D (2012)

Ever since I was a young'in of about 12 or 13, I've been a diehard fan of Dario Argento. This of course means I have never seen anything post-Opera. I mean, what torture would that be! Ever since the 80s wrapped up, the qualities of his movies plummeted! He lost his groove somehow and he just never got it back. Maybe longtime partner and collaborator Daria Nicolodi  = and when they split up]]]]   Dracula 3D...

In the rural Romanian town of Passo Borgo, terrible things are happening. People are mysteriously dying, and everyone is scared of something. When Johnathan Harker arrives in the town to do business for a Count Dracula, he quickly discovers what, and is set upon by creatures of darkness. His wife Mina soon arrives, looking for her husband, and =...

Dracula 3D is a film that caused quite a stir upon its release, because people just couldn't believe it! It didn't seem real, it had to be a joke, what the heck is going on? The trailer perfectly encapsulates the film, both everything wrong and right with it! This is a bad movie in the conventional sense. The acting is appalling, the effects abominable, and the =. But it is hilarious!

Let's start with the good. The story is satisfactory enough. It doesn't do justice to the novel, but as its own thing, it's not that bad. What causes a genuine problem, and not one that makes you laugh, is the fact that it's almost 2 hours long. While never REALLY boring, it does get a bit drawn out in places. Characters will disappear for long stretches, some scenes feel either too long or wholly unnecessary, and =. = Every problem this film's pacing and story has could be solved if it was shorter!

This has a few touches of authenticity to the book, such as rarely included scenes, and the epistolary style. This ends up being underused and forgotten though, as characters get/become too busy to write anything. We're also missing half the characters! Lucy's undergone a baffling surname change, and we've got no Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, or Quincey Morris. Even Van Helsing doesn't show up until the last half hour.

The tone here is surely meant to be scary, but it's so funny instead! There are many hilariously cheesy moments, like when Van Helsing literally fends of a vampire by holding two sticks together in a cross!   or when he kills the big burly henchman in 5 seconds flat! One area is does mostly succeed in is that it does feel like a classical horror film. The effects might be super modern, but this does feel like something from the 70s. Well, except for the nudity, anyway!

The execution in many areas is also lacking. There's an overall amateurish quality to the production. == For example, just about all the villains die extremely easily! It takes like 5 seconds, and they posed zero real threat.

The acting in Dracula 3D comes twofold. The physical actors are rubbish, and the dub actors are terrible! More than that, the dubbing itself sounds really ill-fitting. All of these things come together beautifully, in a perfect storm of = that is hilarious to watch! These people give such amazingly cheesy performances! The greatest is the priest. "He is evil, Van Helsing, do you hear me? EEEEVILLLLLL!!"

Moving onto specific actors. Unax Ugalde seems to me the lead as Johnathan Harker, but quickly falls by the wayside. Marta Gastini is the true lead, and is alright, but unremarkable. I could not tell her and Lucy apart. Asia Argento is tolerable. I barely recognised her honestly, since I was actively looking out for her (and yes, she takes her kit off, in case you were wondering]).

Rutger Hauer is a mediocre Van Helsing. He's a great actor, and I trust him to make a great Van Helsing in a better movie, but this is not it. He also takes forever to show up. I will say though that his American accent isn't too distracting/as distracting s I thought it'd be. Most interesting is that Hauer has himself played Dracula on at least one occasion!

Getting to the Count himself, Thomas Kretschmann is a pretty lousy Dracula. He's not threatening, he's stiff and uninteresting, and never raises his voice beyond a whisper (EXCEPT TO EMOTE REALLY LOUDLY!). He never alters his facial expression, making him look all the more duller. Only in a couple of scenes does he really give more of an effort, to no avail.

Augusto Zucchi!...Ok, I am aware my American readers will have no idea who I'm talking about, so I'll give you a =. He's the grumpy but lovable police chief in Il Commissario Rex, and =  So imagine my surprise when he's not only in a Dario Argento film, but is impaled and eaten by a giant grasshopper! Just goes to show you can never know what to expect.

The music here is fun! It's cheesy, yes, but it has a very classical Gothic horror throwback sound to it that I liked. It builds the mood well.

The locations here are mixed. The woods are effectively atmospheric, and Dracula's castle isn't half bad. Some of the locations are practical, while others are achieved by poor digital effects. Those shots are minimal though, and the sets are seen the most.

As for direction, Argento hasn't entirely lost his touch visually. You'd never believe a master cinematographer made this, and it has the feel of a TV movie, but there are a few neat shots, and well framed scenes. As for the 3D aspect though, there's nothing here I could tell was 3D. The rare moments that come close to popping out of the screen aren't even aimed at the camera most of the time.

Now let's come to the greatest moment in the film-The effects! Oh boy, they are the funniest thing you'll see =! We've got fake blood spurts, hilarious decapitations, and CGI wolves and locations that look out of a Playstation game. The film unwisely lingers on these moments too, giving us plenty of time to see how fake they look.

We get an even mix of terrible practical effects, and terrible digital effects, showing that the team on this film didn't discriminate. The best moment by far is the giant grasshopper

Overall, Dracula 3D has some serious problems, but in a way these only elevate it. It may not be good per se, but it's always entertaining, and what more could you want for a fun movie night with friends!...