Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan (film #7 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film and TV]

This looks like real war footage from the Spanish-American War. A bunch of soldiers dressed in white advance and shoot their guns. Then the Americans arrive and shoot theirs, before charging forward. The guns give off huge clouds of smoke and I can't help but imagine the soldiers on both sides dissolving into coughing fits. Despite that, this film has quite a bit of historical value. An 1899 Edison film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Co-Ed Secrets (film #338 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Two women in their underwear "tie up" a third woman in her underwear and "spank" her with a sorority paddle. I use the quotes to indicate the extrememly unconvincing acting. Then they "tie" her to a bed, using plenty of rope but no noticeable knots and "tickle" her with "feathers" (or at least feather-like objects), making her undulate her body, only said undulation starts well before the tickling begins. After she gets a big grin on her face, they "untie" her, and hand her the paddle, allowing her to "turn the tables" and get her revenge by giving them an extremely light "spanking". All this to a sprightly, yet cheesy music soundtrack. My husband declared this to be "too classy" for him––of course, he regularly watches the likes of The Magic Land of Mother Goose, so what does he know?

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Animals in the Service of Man (film #140 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

It's hard not to be charmed by this 40s film about animals and all they contribute to human society. Made by the American Humane Association and enthusiastically narrated by Lowell Thomas, it also provides a brief history of the humane movement in the U.S. and talks about some of the uses animals are put to in wartime. Another historically interesting aspect is that it was made during a time when horses had not yet disappeared completely from city streets, and we see scenes of horses drinking from public horse troughs provided by Humane Societies, and animal control officers inspecting the teeth of horses pulling delivery wagons. The animals themselves are charming, of course, as are the scenes of lost pets being reunited with their owners. Admirably, the filmmakers let these scenes speak for themselves without milking them for sympathy. A fun and historically interesting film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Andy's Animal Alphabet (film #378 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

This is an alphabet of animals in the Bronx Zoo, which is one of the better concepts for an alphabet film I've come across. Andy is a baby orangutan and for some reason he is the host, or more accurately the mascot, for the film. Which is not a bad idea, really, because he is genuinely cute and charming just being a baby orangutan. The other animals are fun, too, making this one of the best of the alphabet films, which are usually boring.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.

Earthquake (film #470 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: News]

This film documents the 1971 Southern California earthquake wtih a focus on the rescue efforts. Federal disaster relief had just been increased and the Office of Emergency Preparedness formed, and the film shows how they addressed their first major disaster. The film is very straightforward and unemotional in its presentation and it all has that kind of depressing 70s feel to it, from the days when it seemed like every film and tv show was filmed on location in the ghetto. Still, some scenes are moving, some are disturbing, and there's even one funny scene: Office workers at some government agency get into an office in a building that was hit by the quake and find a big mess, including emergency preparedness brochures scattered all over the floor. One guy says, "Where's the disaster plan?" and a woman replies, "It's under all this junk somewhere!" A wonderfully ironic moment in a film that is otherwise slow-moving and turgid. Be aware that there are some brief scenes of bloody injured people, corpses, and body parts that may be upsetting to some people––these are quite brief and infrequent, though.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A (though the moment in the office gets ***). Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.

The Avenging Conscience (Sinister Cinema, 1999). [Category: Early Film & TV]

It's 1914, but already you can see many film conventions in this long-for-its-time D. W. Griffith movie. A young man finds that his troubles are just beginning after he kills his creepy eye-patched uncle/guardian who won't let him marry the woman he loves. Ghosts! Hallucinations! Blackmail by a slimy Italian! A frantic gun battle! Suicides! Religious visions! Fortunately, it turns out to be all just a dream (phew!). Some of the conventions seen include foreshadowing (with the subtitles cueing us to "remember this character" in case we don't get it), a comic subplot involving wacky servants, and, yes, padding. You can really see why D. W. Griffith is known as an influential director in this entertainingly melodramatic film. A 1914 D. W. Griffith film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Another Cup of Coffee (film #142 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

A Prudential insurance salesman stops by a drugstore soda fountain for a cup of coffee, calling the waitress, affectionately I'm sure, "Greasy". You can tell Greasy appreciates her nickname, because she slips some LSD into the coffee at no charge. This causes the salesman, who is obsessing about finding more prospects, to see Twangy, the magic pixie that lives in his head, appear in the cup of coffee and start talking to him about his prospect problem. Twangy uses insidious mind control to get the salesman to see everybody he has a relationship, or even the least acquaintanceship, with as a sales prospect. He even gets the druggist to shill for him, calling "a member of my unpaid sales force." Once he has his hooks into somebody, he does his level best to make sure that they use every penny of any extra money they may have to buy various forms of insurance. What can I say? This is a thoroughly evil film, though perhaps not quite as entertaining as I make it sound––the guy's endless sales pitches get old after awhile. Stil, this does blow the lid off the mind control conspiracy lurking in the insurance industry (I should know, I'm from Omaha). Greasy would later get all squishy over Alexander Phipps in Young Man's Fancy––after hearing her nickname I understand why she wanted to get married so bad.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Classic Sports Commercials (Moon River, 1993). [Category: Commercial]

Sports fans can play "Spot the Athlete" on this tape. Unfortunately, I'm not a sports fan, so I don't find this tape very interesting. Unlike the other tapes in this series, there's a lot of repetition here––they seem to want to fit in all the different athletes that were used in such series as the Gillette Blue Blades, the Captain Midnight Hall of Fame, etc., which means you see essentially the same commercial with only minor modifications over and over again. On the plus side, there are a couple of interesting moments (listed below) and quite a few cute 50s animated commercials. And my old pal Joe Namath is way too cool in his Dingo boots (although in a 70s way).


  • I'm thoroughly unconvinced that a real Italian-American like Joe DiMaggio could really stand to eat boxed Butoni Macaroni Dinner without gagging. Seeing him do it is not any more convincing.
  • Willy Mays gives the worst-done celebrity endorsement (for Gillette Super Speed Razors) I've ever seen. He looks like he doesn't understand English and was doing it phonetically.
  • Watch for a really early, really cheesy 1940's intro to a baseball game featuring Red Barber––it just screams early TV. The title graphic says "Direct from Wrigley Field, Chicago", but Red says they're at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn (yeah, I know, they probably just spliced together two different intros for the tape, but I'd really like to believe it aired that way). Red pitches Old Gold cigarettes, saying they're made by "tobacco men, not medicine men" and that you get "a treat instead of a treatment". This seems to imply that most cigarettes at the time were advertised for their medicinal properties!
  • Mickey Mantle enjoys Karo ("KAY-ro") Syrup on pancakes!
  • "Uh-oh, greasy kid stuff!"

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *** (add a star if you're a sports fan). Overall Rating: ** (add a star if you're a sports fan).

Big Dumb Monster Trailers (extra on Mighty Gorga/One Million AC/DC DVD (Something Weird, 2002)). [Category: Commercial]

This doesn't disappoint––these trailers from various monster movies are truly big and dumb. One of many of the fine ephemeral extras that Something Weird adds to its DVDs. As usual with trailers on DVD, these have great film quality and are menu-driven, so you can play exactly the trailer that suits your fancy at any time.


  • Some of the great over-the-top claims made by the trailers: The Valley of Dragons is Challenged by Furious Forces of Nature That Defy Explanation! Equinox features a Master of Occult Mysteriously Missing! The Cyclops features Three Men and a Girl!
  • The obviously Mexican movie Tom Thumb just might feature that little Mexican kid from Santa Claus. He sure looks like it, anyway.
  • Both The Loch Ness Horror and One Million AC/DC feature really stupid-looking puppet monsters.
  • Come to think of it, One Million AC/DC doesn't have one thing about it that isn't stupid. Sample claim: "See unsuspecting cave women succumb to a horny gorilla and like it!" Monsterwize, it not only features a stupid-looking puppet monster, but also a guy in a gorilla suit and Ignatz & Rumsford!
  • Ignatz and Rumsford Alert! If you love the two battling lizards, then this is your trailer collection! They are found in the trailers for Valley of the Dragons, One Milion AC/DC, and Island of the Dinosaurs.
  • Msties, take note! Contains the trailer for Lost Continent.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Among a Mafia (film #5 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #6 in the Drama section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This Lego gangster film just screams "amateur production." The animation is too fast, the title cards whiz by before you can read them, and some of the title cards contain misspellings! Still, it looks like somebody had a lot of fun making this––they just need to learn to slow down and pay attention to what they're doing.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Jungle Jitters (film #12 on Cartoon Scandals (Goodtimes, 1987)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This early Warner Brothers toon features a dorky door-to-door salesmen who visits a tribe of African natives, which results, of course, in lots of silly stereotypes. Pretty typical of its genre and not one of the better Warner Brothers toons.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Admiral Dewey Taking Leave of Washington Committee on the U.S. Cruiser Olympia (film #6 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]

In this exciting sequel to Admiral Dewey Receiving the Washington and New York Committees, the top-hatted bigwigs all slowly disembark the ship, leaving Admiral Dewey to pace alone and ponder the meaning of their visit. Now how will they possibly follow this one up? An 1899 Edison film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: *. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Betty Crocker Yummy Cake (film #6 in the Commercial section of Movieflix ( [Category: Commercial]

Betty Crocker tells us that if your family has problems, making cakes doesn't need to be one of them. Well, isn't that reassuring! She then gives us some handy hints for topping her cakes if we don't have time to make frosting, such as whipped cream and fruit cocktail (ugh!). Another fun piece of 50s housewife ephemera.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Chloe (Something Weird, 1997). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

WHERE ARE YA, YA OLD BAT??? Sorry, I had to get that out of my system after hearing the song "Chloe" over and over on the soundtrack. This is not strictly an "all-black cast" film, as it is advertised, but it is a rare film from the 30s that deals with race as an issue. The title character is a young woman who is the daughter of an old black voodoo woman and an unknown white father––or is she really Betty Ann, the daughter of the wealthy white colonel, who was thought to be drowned 15 years ago. Like most cheap films of the period this is hard to follow. It doesn't help that Jim, Chloe's black suitor, and Wade, her white suitor, look almost identical. Still, this was made on location in the Florida everglades, and the scenery gives a weird, spooky feeling to the procedings. It deserves some points for dealing with the race issue, though I can't help but think that the ultimate message of the film is "It's better to be white." An oddity from the Deep South.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ***.

Felix the Cat (film #39 on Chicago Television (Hollywood's Attic, 1996)). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Alas, this is a crappy Trans-Lux extremely limited animation version of Felix. Felix and his pal Poindexter get caught in a haunted house. The pace is so excruciatingly slow that you begin to wonder if this was made for retarded children. Despite this, the cartoon is quite short, which, of course, means nothing happens. There oughta be a law against such desecration of classic cartoon characters.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.

Dream Hospital (film #1816 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: News]

In this 40s newsreel story, we are shown an ultramodern hospital of the future, built by the Kaiser Foundation. Nurses submit charts through pneumatic tubes, patients get x-rayed on a huge moving table, new mothers pull their babies out of incubator drawers, and new fathers use an ultra-modern ashtray of the future. But the "answer to a doctor's prayer" is the swimming pool! That'll bring 'em in from the golf course.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

Boys' Club Promo (recorded off of American Movie Classics). [Category: Public Service]

Bob Hope tells us all about the good works the Boys' Clubs are doing. We see some rather scrawny kids in Boys' Club t-shirts building models, playing basketball, and one kid learning the valuable lesson of "winner take all" in a checker game. A brief blip in the history of charitable solicitations.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: **.

Alone (film #4 in the Drama section of Brickfilms. Also, film #2 in the Horror section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

A Lego guy dressed in a brown suit enters a Lego crypt and is attacked by a skull-faced Lego ghoul. This little horror flick is genuinely creepy, which is amazing for a brickfilm. This filmmaker really knows how to tell a story and create effective special effects. Shows what a little Lego and lots of creativity can do.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ****.

America's Distribution of Wealth (film #108 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

An economist lectures us on how the American capitalist system is the best in the world, morally right, and according to God's law. He's pretty boring himself, but he is interrupted by a couple of jaw-dropping scenes of "foreigners" marveling at the American system. Especially amusing is a scene of a fake Englishman who looks like Terry Jones dubbed in by Bill Clinton trying desperately to fake a British accent going all ga-ga in a supermarket. The shortages the Englishman has to put up with are assumed to be a product of socialism rather than that recent world war that everybody in the movie seems to have forgotten about. The economist also has going for him an excellent audio-visual aid in the form of a 3-D chart containing stylized human figures that he can move up and down––I really want this one for the Film Ephemeral Museum of Quirky Devices. Actually, he doesn't do too bad a job of showing that the majority of the American people are pretty well-off, but then this film was made at the height of American post-war prosperity, when such things as the GI Bill were making it possible for millions of Americans to move into the middle class at a rate not seen before, and so far not seen again. One wonders what the figures were like during the Depression, which, by the way, was also a product of capitalism. A great example of 50s capitalist propaganda.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.

Atomic TV extras (on Atomic TV (Video Resources, 1994). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Video Resources added some extra goodies to the Atomic TV tape, including trailers from 50s science-fiction movies, an excerpt from an unidentified animated educational film about atomic energy that just had to be titled Our Friend, the Atom (NOTE: Since originally writing this review, I've discovered that the scenes are from A Is for Atom.), and excerpts from that bug-eyed-alien classic, Killers from Space. These extra items give the tape a nice Atomic Cafe feel.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

Admiral Dewey Receiving the Washington and New York Committees (film #5 on Edison Film Archive). [Category: Early Film & TV]

Admiral Dewey paces back and forth on the deck of a ship, probably mumbling to himself, “Where are they, already??" Eventually a bunch of top-hatted bigwigs arrive, including one guy wearing one of those over-the-top admiral's hats. Then some other stuff happens. The end. An 1899 Edison film.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.

Betty Crocker III (film #5 in the Commercial section of Movieflix ( [Category: Commercial]

Betty Crocker guarantees a perfect cake every time you bake. Yeah right. The chocolate cake looks pretty yummy, though. Somebody ought to hand the kid who eats it a napkin.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.

Cherry Knight (film #292 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

Another stag film, this one with a music soundtrack and a rather cheap-looking stripper. There's lots of bouncing action and a couple of industrial-strength pasties, for those who are fans of that. It's a living, I guess.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: **.

Boy with a Knife (film #238 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

Chuck Connors plays a social worker who helps a group of troubled, potentially delinquent boys by forming them into a club at a youth center. The "boy with a knife" is Jerry, a kid with a bitchy stepmother and a wimpy father who won't stand up to her verbal diatribes against him. Jerry takes out his rage by periodically threatening other kids with a knife, when he's not using it to carve up other people's property. When he finds out through the grapevine that his stepmother is planning to send him away to live with his grandmother, he takes out his rage by carving up all the sofa cushions into ribbons. Somehow, this makes his dad finally stand up to his stepmom. "Jerry's not going anywhere," he says to her and this totally cures Jerry of his rage––he immediately goes outside and turns over his knife to Chuck. This is a well-intentioned film that makes a few valid points about delinquency, but mostly it's incredibly simplistic and cliched. Most realistic is how much time and patience it takes for Chuck to win the boys' trust, and how fragile that trust continues to be. Least realistic is the story about Jerry, especially the ending. Jerry has the classical cliched Hollywood Freudian version of a dysfunctional family––bitchy stepmom, wimpy dad who doesn't wear the pants in the family (though the actress playing the stepmom does do an excellent job of making you hate her). The ending is laughably pat and unrealistic––in any real situation like this, you just know that carving up the sofa cushions is just the thing that will get Jerry sent away, and probably to a place a lot worse than his grandmother's. And, of course, there's an instant cure––maybe the filmmakers were just running out of time after all the long sequences of Chuck's trust-building attempts. It all ends up being maddeningly unsatisfying––you want to like the film for its intentions, but it's just too much of a fantasy. For a much more realistic look at the problem of deliquency, and the "club" solution, see Ask Me, Don't Tell Me.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.

A Case of Spring Fever (film #3 on Assignment Venezuela and Other Shorts (Best Brains, 2001). Also, MST3K Episode #1012: Squirm. Also, film #276 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

Hey, msties! Remember the linking bit with Crow playing Willie the Wonderful Wisecracking Waffle? It turns out that character was a direct reference to Coily, the incredibly evil sprite in this film. A poor shmoe repairing a sofa wishes he would never see another spring again. Suddenly, Coily appears and answers his wish. Now his watch doesn't work, the dial on his telephone won't function properly, and he can't even close the doors of his car, much less get it to start. Each time he discovers the consequences of a missing spring, Coily taunts him in an incredibly annoying voice. Finally, the guy cracks and apologizes to Coily, who relents and returns springs to the world, but only in exchange for the poor guy's soul. The guy becomes an insufferable spring promoter, talking endlessly about Coily's kin until he drives all his friends away. This film was sponsored by GM, but it's hard to tell why, unless they too were victims of demonic possession. Willy the Waffle appears in Season 3 of mst3k, meaning Best Brains probably had possession of this short at least as far back as that. Perhaps they couldn't find a film that was just right to pair it with. Eventually, they found themselves making the very last episode and they just couldn't pass it by. They certainly saved the best for last in that case.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: *****. Msting: ****. Overall Rating: *****.

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things

Beginning Responsibility: Taking Care of Things . Grade-schooler Andy is a slacker in the taking-care-of-things department, so he suffers t...