Category Archives: 1961

Bloodlust! (1961, Ralph Brooke)

What’s startling about Bloodlust! isn’t how bad it gets–the film opens on a docked ship, with the principal cast pretending it’s moving violently so the bad is obvious straight away–but how many not bad elements there are to the film. None of them are enough to make Bloodlust! worthwhile, unless someone’s a big June Kenney fan or “Brady Bunch” enthusiast.

Kenney gives a good performance as the level-headed girl. She’s dating Robert Reed, who isn’t any good. He’s not as bad as he could be–Eugene Persson is pretty lame as the other guy (Bloodlust! is a little like “Scooby-Doo (without the dog) meets The Most Dangerous Game”). As the other girl, Persson’s girlfriend, Joan Lora is appealing but bad. Out of nowhere, though, Kenney will turn in some fantastic scene and it’s inexplicable why she’s in this picture.

As the manhunting madman, Wilton Graff does an amiable job chewing the construction paper scenery. Director Brooke is not a dynamic director, not one bit; he does like blood and gore effects though, which occasionally gives the film a pulse. He cuts to hide the lack of action. It goes from an arrow firing to an arrow hitting, for example. It’s budget conscious but Brooke and editor Harold V. McKenzie don’t cut the sound right.

Strangely, Brooke has some good ideas in the script. He improves on Dangerous Game standards. Plus, he gives Kenney to do than the boys.

Bloodlust! is short, bad, dumb and mildly amusing.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Ralph Brooke; screenplay by Brooke, based on a story by Richard Connell; director of photography, Richard E. Cunha; edited by Harold V. McKenzie; music by Michael Terr; released by Crown International Pictures.

Starring Wilton Graff (Dr. Albert Balleau), June Kenney (Betty Scott), Robert Reed (Johnny Randall), Eugene Persson (Pete Garwood), Joan Lora (Jeanne Perry), Troy Patterson (Captain Tony), Walter Brooke (Dean Gerrard), Lilyan Chauvin (Sandra Balleau) and Bobby Hall (Jondor).


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The Phantom (1961, Harold Daniels)

“The Phantom” is horrific. Between Lon Chaney Jr. trying a Cajun accent and Paulette Goddard’s hilariously bad turn as a Ms. Big, there’s no good acting. But these two guest stars aren’t even the worst–lead Roger Creed is unbearably awful. I’m sure he was hired to put on the purple jumpsuit but still… he doesn’t deliver a single acceptable line.

Daniels’s direction is no help either. He’s a little classier than the rest of the production–which just makes one realize how far Chaney and Goddard had fallen since Hollywood. Another particularly bad element is George W. Merrick’s inept editing. It’s like he tries to cut away from Creed’s deliveries, but just makes it worse.

Thankfully, the pilot never went to series–saving co-star Reginald Denny some amount of embarrassment I’m sure–but it’s terrifying enough on its own.

Unless you love Richard Kiel, avoid at all costs.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Harold Daniels; teleplay by John Carr, based on the character created by Lee Falk; director of photography, Jack Taylor; edited by George W. Merrick; music by Gene Kauer; produced by Robert Gilbert.

Starring Roger Creed (The Phantom), Paulette Goddard (Mrs. Harris), Lon Chaney Jr. (Jed), Reginald Denny (Commissioner Mallory), Chaino (Chaino), Richard Kiel (Big Mike), Morgan Lane (Lt. Hartwell), Robert Curtis (Johnson), Glen Marshall (Deek), Mike De Anda (Jim), Ewing Miles Brown (Barney) and Allan Nixon (Doc Sanders).


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Time Is Just a Place (1961, Donald F. Glut)

I’m sure writer-director Glut understands Time Is Just a Place–and I’m sure he explained it to friends and family who watched it when he made it–but there’s no explanation in the short itself.

There are a couple rocket ships traveling through space. They’re apparently time rockets. One ends up in prehistoric times, the other in the modern day. The prehistoric rocket pilot encounters some dinosaurs–Place has a big fight between a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a stegosaurus–while the other rocket somehow causes the destruction of the planet Earth.

That final sequence is really effective, though Glut appears to have just broken up a disk.

The opening few shots suggests some kind of lyrical film, with the next few minutes suggesting a lot of riffing on time travel. Sadly, Glut delivers neither. Once the dinosaurs show up, he eschews most abstract ambition.

That dinosaur fight’s bitching though.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written, edited, photographed and directed by Donald F. Glut.


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The Saga of Windwagon Smith (1961, Charles A. Nichols)

There’s nothing good about The Saga of Windwagon Smith. The best thing about it is the extended opening titles, which eat up some of the runtime and lessen the cartoon’s awfulness.

The animation happily plays at the nexus of lazy, incompetent and bad. Director Nichols–who cowrote–at least could’ve come up with an interesting visualization for his dumb story.

Instead, he relies on singing narration. It, and the dialogue, all rhymes. Except they’re bad rhymes, which makes one wonder how much time anyone spent on Windwagon. It’s like they wrote the dialogue first and the couplet at some later point.

Rex Allen is equally obnoxious as the protagonist and narrator.

The most striking thing about the cartoon, however, is the rampant racism. There are multiple Native American jokes, a Chinese one, but it also mocks the Kansas townspeople as moronic rednecks.

Windwagon‘s a dreadful way to spend twelve minutes.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Charles A. Nichols; written by Lance Nolley and Nichols; animated by Julius Svendsen and Art Stevens; music by George Bruns; production designer, Ernie Nordli; produced by Walt Disney; released by Buena Vista Releasing Company.

Starring Rex Allen (Windwagon Smith) and J. Pat O’Malley (Mayor Crum); narrated by Allen.


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