Wednesday, February 13, 2008

PD Project Part 3

Side A: All Gorillas! Side B: All Gamera! It's like a Sesame Street record brought to you by the letter "G" and a steaming pile of crap!

Sci-Fi50

    Disc 3
  • King of Kong Island (1968) runtime: 1:25:00

    A mad scientist experimenting with mind-controlled gorillas kidnaps a girl. Now a mercenary the scientist tried to kill earlier must rescue her.
    There's something between "nothing" and "no good" happening here. The hero is a mercenary! The movie opens with him overseeing a payroll robbery gone wrong. Then, an eternity and a half later when the movie's moved on to it's plot, the hero refuses to rescue the girl until he's offered a chance of revenge against some other enemy he's made, but he still has to be paid. To save the defenseless girl. Who's the daughter of his friend. Who he watched grow up. And who seems to be in love with him. Ewwww.
    The repeated and literal subjugation of women in the film is pretty creepy, though it does explain why guys like Russ Meyer and Roger Corman ended up making "women who kick ass" films--the alternative is boring. And here's a clue to how much effort was put into the film itself--the title that comes up on screen is just "Kong Island," there are very few gorilla scenes in the movie (hence very little "Kong") and it doesn't take place on an island. I think this film molested my brain. I'm pursuing charges.
    This is still under copyright no matter what the Wiki page says: V2376P292/1988-06-15
    Wikipedia article

  • Bride of the Gorilla (1951) runtime: 56:27

    A plantation manager murders his boss so he may marry the boss's wife. But a witch witnesses the murder and curses the manager to transform into a gorilla.
    Another flick I saw first on The It's Alive Show. It's a simple enough story (man being driven mad by native curse) and Raymond Burr plays it well. The mystery isn't so much in finding out what's going on but in finding out how much of it is in Burr's head. Plus there's something inherently satisfying in seeing someone wearing a bad monkey suit. In fact, I will endorse any candidate who gives a speech while wearing a gorilla mask.
    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

  • Attack of the Monsters (1969) 1:19:51

    A UFO takes two boys from Earth to Terra--a planet in Earth's orbit on the other side of the sun. There they find the remains of a highly advanced civilization and its two remaining survivors. The survivors control giant monsters and are plotting to take over the Earth. Gamera, the giant flying fire-breathing turtle must save the children and our planet.
    A film that makes you pray for death--either your own or that of the oh-so-precious children in the film. A nonsensical dub paired with the inherent silliness of the original film doesn't help. Also the incompetent pan-and-scan performed on the movie, a pan-and-scan that neither pans nor scans but rather cuts within a shot, only adds to the actual pain of watching. You feel like you're high and suffering intermittent black outs. One hell of a bad time, but credit where credit is due--the villains' plans for the kids start with eating their brains and there ain't nothing wrong with that.
    Now I'd like to step back and speak in defense of Gamera. It's easy to make fun of this "friend of children." Indeed, you should. The entire enterprise is so goddamn ridiculous from start to finish. Gamera's just silly. But that's what I love about him. I first saw Gamera movies on Captain USA way back when I was a kid, and even then I had no delusions that the films were good. In fact Gamera is probably why I didn't do drugs when I was a teen--what could be stranger than a 200-foot-tall turtle with tusks that breathed fire and could fly? I know people who've seen some crazy stuff on acid, but not that crazy. And it's because of Gamera that I learned to appreciate the bad, to laugh at the absurd. More than with any comedy, you get to take life less seriously when watching something as campy and ridiculous as Gamera. It's like cinematic candy--it's not good for you, you feel kind of sick when it's over, but sometimes you just want to gorge on it.
    I think this movie is still under copyright though I couldn't find a specific document number. An Attack of the Monsters shows up on several copyright forms online, but it's not clear to me what those forms are listing or if they refer to this particular Attack of the Monsters. However, there is an avi on the Internet Archive. If I can get the Archive staff to confirm the PD status, I'll upload my DVD copy.
    Archive.org page
    Wikipedia article
    A different dub of this movie was used for episodes 0312 and K08 of Mystery Science Theater 3000. 0312 can be viewed on GoogleVideo. Both can be downloaded from the Digital Archive Project.

  • Gammera the Invincible (1966) 1:25:16

    A skirmish between Russian and American planes in the arctic results in the detonation of an atomic bomb which awakens Gammera (sic), a 200-foot-tall fire-breathing turtle.
    The first Gamera film, apparently released before the English spelling of the name had been decided upon. Like the first Godzilla movie, there are several new American clips spliced into this film, though not nearly so many as in Godzilla. File under "it's always about us." Whereas Godzilla used Raymond Burr to essentially narrate the story and ease the task of dubbing (as well as to cut out the anti-a-bomb stuff), Gammera's new footage is about what the American military thinks of the situation and how they plan on responding. Then the Japanese handle things themselves. Further strangeness, Gamera, like Godzilla in his first film, is a monster that must be defeated. However Gamera has a child advocate who insists Gamera isn't evil. Though he may be "friend of children," even in this first film, he's kind of a dick to everyone else.
    I think this film is still under copyright, though as with Attack of the Monsters, I'm not entirely sure. It appears on two documents whose meanings I don't understand. There is a copyright entry for the song featured in the film which is the only thing in the film worth sampling and re-using anyway, so the question is moot.
    Wikipedia article
    A different dub of this movie was used for episodes 0302 and K05 of Mystery Science Theater 3000. 0302 can be viewed on YouTube (in 10 parts). Both can be downloaded from the Digital Archive Project.

I'll be back next time with Disc 4: four more films including one about Santa Claus, one about teenagers and two about Rocky Jones, Space Ranger! Only two are PD.

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