Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Once again- there just ain't no way! One of the slew of bloody barbarian movies that paraded through cinemas in the wake of CONAN's huge box office take. Director Umberto Lenzi is usually much better with crime films than anything else but with character names like Ela, Isa, Vood, Rag and Tog I'm going to have to see this one. Hopefully brain-bashing violence is on tap to make my viewing more interesting.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
I’ve been a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most famous creation since I was a boy. Like many other kids with an appetite for adventure fiction I read the first of the Tarzan novels and fell in love with the stories of the orphaned nobleman raised by gorillas in the African jungle. His adventures fighting predatory beasts, harassing Arab poachers, finding the occasional lost city and battling nefarious bad guys seeking various treasures thrilled me page after page. It’s because I loved the Tarzan of ERB that I could hardly stand the Tarzan of Hollywood.
Friday, August 25, 2006
I submit to you that there is no way this film can be even close to as fantastic as its amazing poster. Directed by Amando Ossorio of BLIND DEAD fame and starring Ray Milland I must eventually see it, of course. But there is no way it is even a fraction as good as this artwork would have me believe.
Friday, August 18, 2006
In BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS our man Agar plays Steve March, a geologist working with his partner Dan (Robert Fuller) in the desert southwest. They’ve been getting odd fluctuating gamma radiation readings (!?) centered miles out in the desert and Steve insists they check it out. Once there they track the readings to a newly formed cave and are attacked by Gor-the titular brain from another world. This evil alien kills Dan and possesses the body of Steve with the intention of using his incredible destructive mind powers to take over Earth, launch an invasion of his home planet and molest Steve’s fiance Sally (Joyce Meadows)- not necessarily in that order. Steve constantly tries to fight off Gor’s control to little effect but Sally and her father become very concerned about the spasms of pain that accompany his attempts. They ridiculously decide to travel to the desert cave and there discover Vol, another brain from Arous sent to recapture the fugitive Gor. Vol explains how to kill the mad brain and just before he’s able to take over the world Sally gets this information to Agar who takes an ax to the criminal cerebellum.
Almost too fun to be believed this is a classic so-bad-its-good movie. The story is incredible with characters doing hysterically illogical things simply to advance the plot. I’m still trying to figure out why a geologist would be given clearance to attend a major nuclear test or how (or why) geologists were monitoring ‘gamma radiation readings‘. But honestly the rest of the movie could be totally boring and would still be worth seeing for the insane final scene. The sight of John Agar ax-whacking an oversized brain dangling from clearly visible wires is one of the most hilarious things this side of PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE. The film had to be fun for Agar as well since he gets to play two roles- good guy and bad brain. He does a good job as both but it’s the evil moments that really shine. Rarely is he more entertaining than in the sequences in which he convinces assembled world representatives of his power and issues his mad orders complete with diabolical laughter. Brilliant! Highly recommended for these who like their popcorn movies spiced with cheese.
To be continued........
Saturday, August 12, 2006
In THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) Agar plays Dr. Roger Bentley an archeologist working on a dig somewhere in Asia. (That’s as specific as the film gets!) He finds a tablet fragment with indications of Sumerian origins and then comes across an ancient oil lamp that points towards a local mountain. Agar along with Hugh Beaumont mounts an expedition to the summit and after much stock climbing footage they reach a high plateau scattered with crumbling Sumerian buildings. After a member of the group falls into a deep crevasse the men descend into the mountain and make the archeological discovery of the century- a living Sumerian settlement cut off from the world for thousands of years! Most of the population has become albino with extremely pale skin and sensitivity to bright light while some have ‘devolved’ into hideous mole like humanoids. The mole men are used as slave labor and treated horribly. Using his still functioning flashlight Agar convinces the rulers that he’s a messenger from one of their gods and starts romancing one of the Sumerian ‘throwbacks’ i.e. a normal looking woman named Adad (Cynthia Patrick) with a great hair stylist. Finally Agar and Beaumont instigate a Mole man rebellion making good their escape with Adad in tow.
To be continued...........
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Long before I knew John Agar by name he was one of my heroes. He was the guy that took a cattle prod to the Gill Man, found a hidden underground civilization and blew up a giant spider in the desert- all without breaking a sweat! The fact that my adolescent mind could combine these three different movie roles and thereby turn Agar into a kind of superman is probably because he played similar characters in many films. Some might say they were often the EXACT same role. He was usually the smart, stoic, smiling fellow that could be counted on when the Mole Men attacked or a were-creature was stalking his fiance. These movies weren’t always very good (and Agar didn’t appreciate them at the time) but as film nuts in the 21st century have discovered his genre movies are always entertaining even if not for the reasons originally intended! Agar’s first foray into fantastic cinema was a sequel to the classic CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. It’s not his best genre film but it did give him a key contact for later greatness.
Picking up a year after the first film REVENGE OF THE CREATURE has a couple of stalwart scientists types return to the Black Lagoon to capture the monster. Using dynamite charges (!) to subdue him they transport the amphibian back to Florida and set him up in Ocean Harbor for scientific study and public viewing. Ichthyologist Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) and fellow scientist Professor Clete Ferguson (John Agar) begin trying to both communicate with the Gill Man and romance each other. Their romance is a bit more successful probably because Agar doesn’t poke Nelson with an electrified prod every ten minutes as he does the Creature. Finally the poor aquatic beastie manages to break free, kill a few folks and run off into the open water with gunmen in hot pursuit. Once again he has his sights set on a female and this time it’s Miss Nelson he goes in search of, putting her new fiance Agar on the offensive!
To be continued.......