(1910 – Edison Co. – silent) dir: J. Searle Dawley; w/ Charles Ogle, Augustus Phillips, Mary Fuller. One reel.
Almost certainly the first film adaptation of the story, and while it does try to use some of the themes from the book, conveying such a story in less than 13 minutes is a fool’s task. Still, that doesn’t excuse the trip-hammer ending so ridiculous that you can almost hear the cameraman shout, “We’re almost out of film! Write an ending, quick!” Aside from that, the film is well made (within expectations of the era). Notable is that the monster-making process is alchemical and accomplished with an interesting bit of trickery (a burning mannequin filmed in reverse). The surviving copy is a little rough in spots, but well worth a view for film historians and horror aficionados.
(1955) dir: Francis D. Lyon; w/ Faith Domergue, Richard Long, Marshall Thompson, Kathleen Hughes. No skin, no gore, no pulse.
The slinky Cobra Priestess stalks the GI’s who crashed her cult’s party. Does she really turn into a snake? Will her murderous quest be undone by the charms of an American hunk? This is the usual sort of Universal B-flick, sprinkled with light humor and even lighter suspense; well crafted but carefully devoid of anything that might alarm even the most alarmable. Like most such B’s from the majors, it was made with the expectation that no one would actually pay much attention to it. So there is nothing here for anyone who is actually paying attention.
(1966) prod & dir: Hy Averback; w/ Patrick O’Neal, Cesare Danova, Wilfrid Hyde-White, (Wayne Rogers in an early role, Tony Curtis in a brief cameo). No skin; no gore.
A one-handed madman stalks those responsible for sending him up the river; meanwhile, his gruesome exploits are immortalized in the very wax museum run by his next targets. This one hauls out the old “Fear Flasher” gimmick, warning the audience of a ghastly moment to come (said moments, of course, never occur — but if you close your eyes, you can pretend). Really, it is just a polished, inoffensive, and utterly un-scary flick that feels a lot like a TV pilot for a new P.I. show. Its only real merit is the fine cast, who do help to at least make the film modestly entertaining.
(2011) dir: Mary Lambert; w/ Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, A. Martinez, (Micky Dolenz cameo). No skin; mild gore.
Thanks to a crazy environmentalist, the python problem in the Everglades gets supersized. Thanks to a crazy sheriff, the gators get super-dupersized. Then it’s just gargantuan reptiles versus everybody and only two crabby women and some dynamite can save us now. Apparently, the rehashed critters were not quite enough, so they threw in a cat-fight and a Monkee to try and hold our interest. It doesn’t work. Even by the standards of SyFy channel regurgitated drivel, this one is awfully weak– lukewarm script, bargain bin FX, and half-hearted attempts at humor. Give it a miss unless you just have to see Gibson & Tiffany in a cat-fight.
(1962) writ & dir: Pat Boyette; w/ Russ Harvey, Helen Hogan, William McNulty. No skin; no gore.
Some castaways wind up on the island of Count De Sade. Oops. The Count is almost as batty as the screenwriter — depravities ensue. Of course, this thing banks entirely on the exploitation elements, but what’s there (a little bondage, a little torture) is brief and rather tepid. What makes the flick worth watching are the dime-store SFX, the wooden acting, the ridiculously hammy acting, inappropriate canned music, and dialogue so stiff it could stop a bullet. It might make a good party movie, but you’ll have to work at it a bit.
(2009) dir: Scott Sanders; w/ Michael Jai White (also script), Tommy Davidson, Salli Richardson-Whitfield. A tidbit o’ skin; no gore.
Mr. Black Dynamite (apparently his real name) must get drugs off the streets, fight an evil plot to hit black men where it will hurt the most, battle the evil master, etc., etc., etc. Usually billed as a “tribute” to the old blaxploitation flicks, what this really looks like is an attempt at a modern remake of the Dolemite flicks. (Okay, White’s Kung Fu is better, but he still ain’t got nothing on Rudy.) It is one of those goofy movies that just tries too hard to be goofy. Still, they throw enough crazy shit at the screen that some of it is bound to work. It almost certainly plays best to those who have watched the real blaxploitation films far too often.
(2004) writ, prod & dir: Dan Grodnik; w/ Dedee Pfeiffer, Randall Batinkoff, Danny Woodburn, Jeff Fahey. No skin; almost no gore.
Here we are again at that secret government project involving genetically engineered super-sharks. Of course, the sharks prove too much to handle, but this time the west coast is only vaguely threatened by a few cheap CG sharks. This flick can only be summed up as Dorky – like that kid in school who was actually convinced he was funny. They do straight-up formula and try to make up for their weak budget and anemic script by forcing in a little campy humor. That only multiplies the dorkiness. This is the sort of movie that doesn’t even look good through beer-goggles. I’ll give a tip of the hat to the cast; they do struggle gamely to entertain the audience, but I’m afraid they just don’t have the chops to rescue this twaddle.