Sunday, February 03, 2008

PD Project Part 1A

Here's something new I'm messing about with. I currently have four "50-Movie Mega Packs" of DVDs (Chilling, Sci-Fi, Horror and Drive-In Movie Classics) and really haven't watched any of them. My goal is to watch as many of these movies as I can, post the public domain ones to the Internet Archive and provide short reviews of each film. It's not complicated so let's start the hurting with the Sci-Fi Classics Collection!

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 1A
  • The Incredible Petrified World (1957) runtime: 1:03:16

    A group of four scientists and reporters descend into the ocean in an experimental diving bell whose cables break, leaving them stranded on the ocean floor. They find a series of volcanic caves--with air but no exit--and a survivor of a sunken ship who has been there for fourteen years.
    One of those odd movies where nothing actually happens and the "heroes" don't do anything. Like riding a roller coaster with no hills.
    Opens with about five minutes of stock footage shot at a municipal aquarium somewhere while a bland narrator talks about ocean life and mysteries of the deep--mysteries that have no bearing on this film.
    This film was already on the Internet Archive which means I didn't have to think about it beyond writing this little review.
    Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article

  • Queen of the Amazons (1946) runtime: 1:00:14

    A group of four Americans are on a quest to find a friend who disappeared on a safari. Their search takes them from India to Africa while they are harried by a shadowy conspiracy and tales of a "white she-devil" ruling an army of African tribesmen.
    One of the things I've noticed with these old films (gleaned from watching these collections, The It's Alive Show and Mystery Science Theater 3000) is how often they have a really good plot. The search for the son, student, friend and fiancé lost on a safari with overtones of deeper conspiracies at work is good. I'd read that story, I'd watch that movie. Then that good central idea is absolutely torpedoed either through laziness on the part of the filmmakers or the prevailing prejudices of the era, if not both.
    This movie uses both to blow. Not only is it a vast collection of stock and PD footage cobbled together by short scenes of cardboard characters flatly portrayed, it lets its sexism and racism undermine the interesting parts of the story that it's already set up! Not only do the characters dismiss the concerns of the local "savages" over the dangers in their own backyards (cause what would they know--they just live there), the movie establishes two different women as being smart, savvy and absolutely in charge. In fact the heroine is an expert markswoman who's leading the group in the search for her fiancé. Yet when a lion attacks the camp, she picks up a gun and...
    does nothing but scream in terror. Same again with the eponymous Queen of the Amazons. She's the leader of several tribes, is a capable warrior, even the beasts of the jungle bow to her. So why is she paralyzed when she gets threatened with a spear? I'm not being a knee-jerk PC liberal here (although I am a knee-jerk PC liberal). The movie doesn't make sense even on its own terms.
    But it's got a monkey AND a trained raven, so that's got to count for something.
    This film was already on the Internet Archive which means I didn't have to think about it beyond writing this little review.
    Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article

  • Robot Monster (1953)

    I'm not watching this again! I have seen it enough! Guy in a gorilla suit and a diving helmet menaces the last six humans on Earth with threats delivered via video chat and a bubble machine. Considered one of the worst movies ever made, this flick is still under copyright! (RE0000107158/1981-11-06) Amazing and depressing that I've seen it so many times.
    Wikipedia article
    This was episode 0107 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and can be viewed on YouTube (in 9 parts) or downloaded from the Digital Archive Project.

I'll be back next week with side B of Disc 1: three more films--all public domain--including a woman acting like a cat, an invisible man and a film by your messiah and mine, Mr. Roger Corman.

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