The Adventures of Kit Carson – The Trap (film #8 in the Classic TV section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]

In this rather unusual episode, Kit and El Torro help a wanted criminal foil a plot to drive his wife and son off of their ranch. This is another one of the better Kit Carsons, with a plot that has some interesting twists and turns. And, amazingly enough, it has El Torro cooking instead of womanizing!

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

The Abominable Snowman (film #4 in the Trailers section of Movieflix). [Category: Commercial]

Letterboxed (nice touch, Movieflix!) trailer for The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, that 50s classic of Yetidom. The film is not particularly campy, but this trailer is a real hoot, with over-the-top narration and carefully edited clips designed to appeal to paranoid nutcases. Great fun.

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

Naked Nudist Trailers (extra on The Beast That Killed Women/The Monster of Camp Sunshine DVD (Something Weird, 2001)). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

A small group of very campy and cheesy trailers for nudie movies from the 60s. Lots of bare breasts and bottoms are shown, but no male naughty bits. Lots of leering, too. Since there are so few of these, I won’t give away the best moments.

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

The Egg and Us (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #478 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

The “egg” of the title is a nest egg of U.S. Savings bonds. This film tries to attribute the postwar prosperity of the 50s entirely to the Savings Bond program, which is laughable, to say the least. Beyond that, though, this film is a great snapshot of 50s attitudes towards its own time. Postwar prosperity is presented as a natural outgrowth of the American way of life (read: capitalism) and the optimistic idea that it will never end is not questioned. This seems particularly na├»ve when they talk about inflation. For all that, it’s not very campy, really, but it does give you a good look at the 50s mindset. And it has lots of that 50s cute-style animation, too.

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

The Littlest Giant (film #6 on An American Retrospective Through Animation (Moviecraft, 1994)). [Category: Industrial]

The "littlest giant" is the American consumer in this film that once again has corporate America trying to fool the little guys into thinking they have a lot more power than they actually do. This time it's consumer credit which supposedly empowers ordinary people and Makes Life Better for Everybody. Granted, legal consumer credit is an improvement over the loan shark (played by a Snidely Whiplash wannabe), but anybody who's struggled with a massive credit card debt can tell you that all this credit is a mixed blessing, and this is not even dealing with broader issues such as the environment or who gets the shaft during an economic downturn (the little guy, usually). The 50s "cute" style animation reminds me of the "Live Better Electrically" spot, which is always an advantage in my book.

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

The Acrobat’s Journey (film #42 in the Drama section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

I don’t know…I don’t think the Chinese proverb “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” provides enough plot for an entire movie. The cinematography and music are nice, though.

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

Apollo, Segment 6006 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]

This brief clip features President Nixon arranging for the joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. space mission, and preparations for Skylab. There’s some historical value here, but not much else.

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

Cookin' with Gags (film #13 on Cartoon Crazys: Sci-Fi (WinStar Home Entertainment, 1999)). [Category: Hollywood]

Popeye and Bluto go on a picnic with Olive Oyl. It's April Fool's Day, and Bluto takes every opportunity to torment Popeye with April Fool's gags, until Popeye finally gets revenge. This is a pretty standard Popeye cartoon, though the gags are mildly amusing.

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

ASROC (film #1 in the 0800044 U.S. Navy Training Film section of DOE Nevada). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Brief introductory clip from a navy training film about ASROC surface-to-air missles. Includes a bit of that primitive animation so common in military films.

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

Breakfast in Camp (film #11 on Buckaroos in Paradise). [Category: Industrial]

Rancher Les Stewart wakes up his ranch hands well before dawn with a yell that could wake the dead, which was probably necessary at that ungodly hour of the morning. The hands, none of whom are morning people, stumble into the cook shack, mumble “Mornin’” to each other, and proceed to gobble down their breakfasts without further comment. I don’t care how many Westerns you’ve seen––this is what it’s really like to be a cowboy!

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

The Adventures of Kit Carson – Singing Wires (film #6 in the Classic TV section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]

In this episode, Kit foils the attempt of a corrupt cattle buyer to start an Indian war. This is by far the best Kit Carson I’ve seen so far. It actually builds up quite a bit of suspense. The portrayal of the Indians, though somewhat stereotyped, is not as bad as you’d expect for the time period it was made. In particular, Kit knows the differences between different tribes, instead of lumping all Indians together, which is surprisingly enlightened for the 50s. This is one Kit Carson to see. El Torro is even shown to fail miserably in his womanizing attempts!

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

Bee City (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #193 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Educational]

This is like Ant City, only about bees. It's a little more interesting than the other film, probably because bee life is somewhat more interesting than ant life. Like the other film, though, it has a questionable narrator who sounds like he's winging it. And he never tells us exactly how honey is made, which to my mind is missing the point. Mostly, though, this is an average nature film with slightly weird narration.

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

ABC Was Still the One in 1977 (film #20 in the Fall Season Jingles section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]

Long network promo from the 70s, done to the song “Still the One”. This is pretty well-done and memorable, especially the beginning, which features clips from ABC shows from the 50s to the 70s. I also find the song to be pretty catchy. This will definitely bring the 70s rushing back to you, so be warned.

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

Murder in Harlem (film #23 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

This very primitive 1935 movie for African-American audiences features a black lawyer and novelist who helps out a young woman whose brother was charged with killing a white secretary in the chemical plant where he works as a nightwatchman. The script has some interesting ideas, and deals with issues such as sexual harassment in the workplace, racist treatment of African-Americans by police and the courts, and domestic violence, that were usually swept under the rug back in the 30s. But the story is turgidly told and the acting is uniformly awful. It also has that stagey feel of early talkies, though it was made in 1935. It’s too bad, really––this could have been a really great film if it had been more competently done. It does deserve some commendation for inserting some actual plot development into the obligatory nightclub scene.

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

Education Is Good Business (film #477 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This film, made by the National Chamber of Commerce, tries to sell the idea that education is good for business. A high school girl who studies art might grow up to be a housewife who has a taste for “the finer things in life,” a boy who learns better farming techniques in high school will eventually run a farm that has better yields, and a girl who takes a typing class in high school will be able to find a good job after graduation and thus have more spending power, at least until she finds a good husband. Communities that support education sell more magazines! Though I agree that higher education levels tend to improve the economy, there is something incredibly lame about this film and its tendency to reduce people to “tax-supported community assets.” I shudder to think what kind of education the people responsible for this film would like to support. The more you think about this film, the more appalling it becomes. But mostly, it’s just dull and poorly-made, which frankly doesn’t reflect well on the education of the filmmakers.

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


Abducted (film #10 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #5 in the Drama section of Brickfilms. Also, film #1 in the Horror section of Brickfilms. Also, film #3 in the Sci-Fi section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This film blows the lid off of the whole alien abduction of Lego men conspiracy. And it’s very well-made, suspenseful, and funny to boot. This is one of the best Brickfilms I’ve seen––it showcases what can be done with the medium.

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

Apollo, Segment 6005 (in the Documentary section of Open Video Project). [Category: News]

Brief clip from a NASA film highlighting aeronautical research in wind tunnels. Unfortunately, there are no soundtrack woes here, but some of the visuals are kind of unusual.

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

Amchitka Program (film #1 in the 0800038 The Amchitka Program section of DOE Nevada). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

Brief clip from a film documenting an atomic bomb test on Amchitka Island in the Aleutians, near Alaska. The film claims that the explosion caused minimal damage. As usual, I’m skeptical.

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

Bridge for the Yaque (film #248 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

Boring film about building a bridge in the Dominican Republic. Those who are really into bridge-building might enjoy this, though, as the process is described in detail. And since the film was sponsored by U.S. Steel, no opportunity was missed to point out how strong and what a great material in general the steel used to build the bridge was.

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

The Boy Detective (film #9 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 3: The Films of American Mutoscope and Biograph Mature (Video Yesteryear, 1995)). [Category: Early Film & TV]

A plucky newsboy brings two guys to justice (for what crime is not made clear) by, among other things, skulking about, sending another guy to check up on them, and, oh yeah, dressing up in drag. Strange? Uh-huh. Gives new meaning to the word "mature". Oh yeah, and that gun he's playing with at the end is really only a cigarette holder––be sure to try that one at home, kids! A 1908 Biograph film.

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

Hey Folks! It's Intermission Time, Vol. 1 (Something Weird). [Category: Commercial]

Drive-in movie snack bar promos––I love 'em. They're some of the cheesiest and most ephemeral of all film ephemera. I even loved them as a kid going to the drive-in for real––I often found them to be more interesting than the movie and would be disappointed when my parents would turn off the speaker during intermission. I love the "Intermissions" that Sinister Cinema puts on its Drive-In Movie Double Feature tapes and always wished I could find a whole tape of this stuff. Imagine my delight when I found this tape in the Movies Unlimited catalog! 90 minutes of nothing but drive-in ephemera, and it's only Volume 1! There are five other volumes in the series! I thought I had died and gone to film ephemera heaven! The tape does not disappoint––it's chock full of all kinds of drive-in paraphernalia: snack bar promos, public service announcements ("Go to church Sunday", "Show an interest in local Boy Scout activities"), timers, holiday greetings, announcements of special shows and promotions, cheesy ads for local businesses, and the highlight of the tape––a bunch of promos for live spook shows that are extremely campy! Highly recommended.


Highlights:


  • We are reminded to get regular check-ups and to be x-rayed frequently by title cards with backgrounds that look like fresh meat. Uh-huh...
  • Disembodied heads are big fans of ice-cream bars!
  • Back in the 60's, when Honda was best known for making cute little motor bikes, they decided to market their cute little bikes to farmers and ranchers by means of a drive-in commercial. So we are treated to scenes farmers and ranchers buzzing around their acreages and herding livestock on cute little Honda motor bikes. Thanks, Honda!
  • It doesn't get any more 60's than a snack bar promo done in the style of Yellow Submarine. Groovy!
  • Santa and the following merchants wish you a happy holiday season: Denison Redi-Mixed Concrete, Farmer's Elevator Mill, Cronk's Cafe, John Rattenborg Produce, B & M Motors, Schlitz Standard Service, Johnson Drug––Veterinary Dept. (only the Veterinary Dept.), and Witt Hardware.
  • Denison Readi-Mixed Concrete is "so easy to work with, leaving no muss about the place when the job is done." I never knew that about concrete.
  • Believe me, the spook show promos on this tape are great! It's good that this obscure slice of pop culture has been preserved. These promos make the Godzilla trailer look tame! Here's just a small sample of the outrageous claims made by these live shows (I swear neither I nor Dave Barry are making these up!): "See a Man Buried Alive!" (volunteers are solicited for this), "We Will Not Be Responsible for: Your Hair Turning Grey, Broken Suspenders, Frantic Wives, or Lost Sweethearts!", "A Human Being MURDERED before your eyes!", "Beautiful Girls Sacrificed to the Blood Lust of Inhuman Monsters!", "Maybe Your Tongue and Eyes Will Be Ripped Out!", "All Undertakers and Grave-Diggers Admitted Free!" "Humans Turned Into Zombies!", "Monsters Grab Girls Out of the Audience!", "Invisible Man Terrorizes You!", "Slave Maidens at the Mercy of Hideous Beats!" "The Devil, in His Wildest Flights of Fancy, Cooked Up These Fantastic Tricks to Baffle You and Frighten You!", "Don't Be Chicken! Show That Gal Friend You Got What It Takes!", "This Theatre Reserves the Right to Stop the Show Anytime It Becomes too S-C-A-R-Y!", "You'll See Human Sacrifices!", "Monsters Cut Off Girls' Heads!", the most incoherent: "You'll See a Blood-Curdling Space Monster Who Died, Yet Alive, Will Come to Seek the Warm Blood He Needs to Keep Himself Alive!", and the most unbelievable: "Even Scarier than Advertised!!" Two different shows make this exact same word-for-word claim: "Positively Never Here Before! Brand New!"
  • Msties, take note: Dr. Macabre's Frightmare of Movie Monsters features the Colossal Beast (as in War of...) alive! In Person!

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


Casper, the Friendly Ghost (film #3 in the Xmas TV section of TVParty). [Category: Hollywood]

Clip from the beginning of an old Casper cartoon, A-Haunting We Will Go. Fortunately, it ends before things get too sappy.

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

The Adventures of Kit Carson – Road to Monterey (film #5 in the Classic TV section of Movieflix). [Category: Early Film & TV]

In this episode, Kit and El Torro help a state senator get to Monterey despite the machinations of the senator’s political rivals. I’m beginning to see a pattern here in things like bad guys starting fights in order to distract Kit (something he always falls for), Kit and El Torro guarding hotel rooms only to have the abduction take place through the window, and the Hispanic female proprietor of the hotel being in league with the bad guys. The formula must have been pretty strong to be detected after only three episodes.

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

ABC Was in the Mood to Celebrate (film #21 in the Fall Season Jingles section of TVParty). [Category: Commercial]

Late 70s ABC network promo containing brief clips from the hit shows that made them number one. Should bring back those 70s tv-watchin’ memories.

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

Moon Over Harlem (film #22 in the Black Culture section of Movieflix). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]

A young woman from Harlem experiences many troubles when her mother marries a gangster. This was directed by cult director Edgar G. Ulmer, and it shows. There is a dark, gritty, tragic feeling about the proceedings, even though the film ultimately ends on a hopeful note. All the characters struggle in one way or another with poverty and hopelessness, and although this is never explicitly stated, the connection of this to racism is obvious. This is also one of the more realistic and less stereotyped of the all-black cast films. I bet African-American audiences of the time really identified with this one.

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

MST Poopie (Best Brains, 1995). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

This blooper reel from "Mystery Science Theater 3000" is a lot more fun than most blooper reels, and I don't just say that because I'm a mstie. The Brains are very creative people and it shows on this tape. They don't just curse when they blow a line or a piece of set falls over––they use it as an opportunity to ad-lib wildly, and some of those ad-libs are funnier than the original script. Also, the puppet handlers often remain in character as their puppets, so it doesn't so much look like Trace or Kevin blowing a line as it does Crow or Tom Servo. Highlights include Joel blowing his single one-word line in the "funny thing with Cambot about waffles", an intimate moment between Morrisey and Dr. Forrester, and Kevin Murphy as a giant leech asking a constantly cracking-up Frank, "Is it my sucking?" Lots of fun.

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

Education for Excellence (film #475 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Public Service]

This early 60s film about educating gifted students in New York City does nothing to dispel the geek stereotype, unfortunately. Most of the children are very nerdy, and some even project a bit of smugness. Most of the teachers are pretty nerdy, too. The film goes on and on about how the program is developing critical thinking abilities in the kids, but when the kids open their mouths, they recite memorized passages in such a stilted fashion that you doubt they really understand anything about them. The film should bring back lots of memories, mostly unpleasant, for people who went to elementary school during the 60s, and it’s very mstable, especially the shots of kids who don’t know their being filmed, and the incredibly nerdy principal with aerodynamically sound ears.

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

ABC Movie of the Week #2 (film #29 in the Fall Season Jingles section of TVParty). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]

Incredibly loud and bombastic intro to an “ABC Movie Special”. Remember when viewers actually cared about such things?

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

Am I On? (film #2 on News Bloopers DVD (Time Life Video, 1999). [Category: News]

This section of News Bloopers features newscasters who don’t realize they’re on the air. These are pretty darn funny, especially the looks on their faces when they realize they are on the air. This is the kind of gaffe I love seeing as it happens. One of the better parts of News Bloopers.

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

Allies Take Rome (film #5 in the D-Day and Beyond section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

British newsreel footage of Allied troops parading through Rome after their victory. Also featured is some mildly disturbing footage of crowds going after traitors and footage of the pope commemorating the Allied victory. Pretty standard, but historically interesting.

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

The Art of Foiling and Frosting Hair (film #9 in the Makeovers, Diets and Fitness section of WPA Film Library). [Category: Industrial]

Excerpt from a 60s training film for hairdressers that explains how hair is frosted and streaked. “Foiling” is a process that involves using actual strips of aluminum foil to hold the bleach on the hair––another use for foil that could have been put into Aluminum on the March. This is actually pretty interesting and the model getting her hair done just screams 60s style.

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

Cap'n Cub (film #1 on V for Victory WWII Cartoons & Shorts Show, Vol. 1 (Something Weird, 1996)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This cartoon, featuring a cute bear cub pilot, is kind of surreal. It's plot kind of wanders all over the place, but basically it involves Cap'n Cub demanding more planes, supervising an aircraft factory which builds tons of planes so that all the cute forest animals can go fight the Japs, and an air battle with a huge Japanese plane piloted by a Japanese monkey ("No racial stereotypes here!" my husband quipped when he first saw him). Nevertheless, there's some fascinating imagery here, especially the technology of the airplane factory (I want the entire plant for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices) and what happens to the monkey's plane after it is shot apart by Cap'n Cub. I bet kids who grew up during the 40s had weird fever dreams about this one.

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

Argentina

Argentina. Standard geography film about the South American country of Argentina. There’s some historical interest here as you get to see ...