July 2021 Mini-Reviews – The Maze to Utopia (US – S1)

I thought I’d get this posted around the middle of August, but… Here it is, the end of the month already!  July ended with the 2021 Olympics — which my wife and I probably watched 12-16 hours a day when it was on, so, I’m guessing that cut down my count some.  And, as mentioned last time, I decided to create a new serialized novel, Monster Shark on a Nude Beach for Kindle’s Vella format (for computers and iPhones).

July contained Shark Week, which I love.  I didn’t want to tank my show/movie count by not counting it at all, nor inflate the count by counting all the shows (though I could have, because I watch all the shows).  Instead, I decided just to count the nights of Shark Week with micro reviews of it all.  (I hope to post the complete reviews later, when I find the time.)  We also had a Mabuse film day on Monster Kid Movie Clubwhich was fun, and I finished the month by (finally) finishing off Amazon Prime’s Utopia, which is a really good dark action-comedy that our son Kendall worked on and has a cameo in (watch for the laughing elf), as well.  Here we go…

Ratings are out of five stars. Here’s what those stars mean to me…

* – This film is not good. Avoid it unless you tolerate dreck well.
** – A flawed film. You may enjoy it if you like this genre or the folks in it.
*** – A good solid film. If you like this genre, you’ll probably like this film.
**** – A superior film within its genre. Thoroughly enjoyable.
***** – An outstanding film on many levels. A great example of its genre.

Maze, The **** Lovecraftian tale of a noble family with a shocking ancient secret. Lots of atmosphere & good production, but disappointing reveal.
Danger: Diabolik *** Bava adapts the Italian supervillain comic into an anti-James Bond tale with lots of good pieces, little connection. I like it better now than when I last watched it & now that I understand it better, may like it even more next time.
Phantom Lake Kids in The Beast Walks Among Us ***** Mihm’s long-awaited pre-pandemic film was worth waiting for with tons of in-jokes & tributes (even more than usual) & Easter Eggs for his fans, plus fine & funny performances & a BIG tip of the hat to Scooby Doo. Mihm fans (like me) will LOVE it!
She Wolf of London (Sven) ** Has all of the usual good Universal monster production values, but an anemic lead & an ending that always disappoints. Sadly.
Case of the Velvet Claws *** Perry Mason & Della Street get married (!) but have to postpone honeymoon plans when held at gunpoint & other inconveniences.
Haunted Honeymoon *** Lord Peter Whimsey gets married, buys a distant honeymoon cottage, & gets swept up in solving a murder before he can relax.
Alligator *** Almost a grindhouse version of JAWS, this film is better produced & acted than you might expet & has good entertainment value.
Pack, The *** Joe Don Baker is better than expected & so is the rest of this film about a vacation community menaced by a pack of wild dogs.
Attack of the Giant Leeches *** The blu-ray of this “classic” starts off a little rough, but then looks really good. You can see what’s going on! Needs full restoration.
1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, The *** Master Fritz Lang’s last film (1960) plays the usual “Who is Mabuse” game & has some pre-Bond Bond-esque action sequences.
Return of Dr. Mabuse (1961) *** This time, Mabuse is manipulating people (as usual) & keeps the cops (Gert Frobe returns) guessing with an asylum theme.
Thousand & One Lives of Dr. Mabuse, The *** Jerry Lacey is always compelling as the criminal mastermind doctor & Ansel Faraj’s short is both trippy & faithful to the noir.
Invisible Dr. Mabuse, The (1962) *** Lex Barker & Karin Dor highlight this flick in which Mabuse is literally invisible, rather than skulking as usual. More SF, less noir.
I Saw What You Did (Sven) *** Caste’s often imitated story of teens prank calling who accidentlaly dial a murderer with plenty to hide. Suspense & a bit of comedy.
In the Heights **** Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tale focusing on 4 people who are looking to leave NYC to find their dreams. Great cast. Great music.
Fighting Devil Dogs (serial) **** There are some early recaps, but the Lydecker Brothers flying machines, good action, & good end reveal make this worth seeing.
Shark Week 2021 – Sunday *** 1st day is Celebrity Day, as usual. Robert Irwin’s show is great. Tiffiany Haddish fine. Jackass awful. After-show all right.
Shark Week 2021 – Monday **** Air Jaws & Slash vs. Fred the usual white shark stuff. Shark Trek with Shatner & Gates is a delight. After-show excellent.
Shark Week 2021 – Tuesday **** Mothersharker sciency. Brad Paisly standard celeb stuff. Spawn of El Diablo, excellent – best so far. After show standard.
Shark Week 2021 – Wednesday **** Mechashark a bit goofy. Sharkado better than expected. Return to the Lair of the Great White very good. After-show not wonderful.
Shark Week 2021 – Thursday *** Dr. P show has gross clips from her show. Ugh. Sharkadellic 2 fun. …Bird Island standard great white stuff. After-show quite good.
Shark Academy ***** Scientist tests 8 shark-interested people to find 1 to join his crew. Lot’s of good shark stuff plus human drama makes this a keeper.
Shark Week 2021 – Friday ***** Best night so far. Ninja Sharks 2, Monster Sharks of Andros Island, Mystery of the Black Demon Shark all great. Bait show OK, too.
Falcon & the CoEds, The *** Tom Conway’s Falcon goes to a girls’ school to investigate a murder & a student who can predict the future. Amusing.
Crazy Ray, The (1924) *** Silent about people waking up in Paris one morning to discover the city/world asleep. They party before trying to figure it out.
Counterblast (1948) *** Escaped Nazi scientist takes place of Englishman to continue his germ warfare experiments in England. Villain protagonist.
Ladron de Cadaveres *** Cop & Mexican wrestler try to stop a body snatching scheme, only to have the wrestler get an ape brain & become a monster. Silly.
Shark Week 2021 – Saturday *** Final night of 2021. Return to Shark Vortex (great), Shark Week Best in Show 2021 (fun), I Was Prey Shark Week 2021 (okay).
Falcon in Hollywood, The *** Falcon tries to solve the murder of a Hollywood star with the help of plucky lady cabby. More of the usual fun & hijinx.
Batwoman (S2) *** Replacement Batwoman works pretty well when not lost in silly soapy stuff. Too much Alice, still, but comes together at the end.
Giant Leeches, The *** Blu-ray version of this low-budget classic looks better than ever, but could still use restoration. Classic cheesy monsters & sleaze.
Black Widow **** Set between Civil War & Avengers Infinity War, the Widow has to face down the people who created her with old comrades. Fun.
Mummy, The (1959 – Sven) ***** Sure, the Hammer version doesn’t know Karnak is a temple & not a god, but Cushing & Lee (Mummy) & production are brilliant.
Flash, The (S7) *** The Mirror sequence went to long, left unasked questions. The Forces segment was meh, & then another Speedster foe? Meh.
Utopia (S1) ***** Often brilliant black-comedy adventure series about a pandemic will never get a 2nd season because it came out during pandemic.

That’s it for July.  35 shows/series/film for a total of 398 for the year.  Not bad, considering Shark Week and the Olympics — though the Mr. Monk in me wishes that I’d had just two more to end in a nice, round number.  August will probably take a numbers hit because of the Olympics, too… But we’ll see when I post it.

Next Month: Somehow, August is nearly over as I write this.  I’d say I’m shooting for releasing the movie list in the middle of the month — but I think that every month, and somehow life intervenes.  So… Let’s just say that with any luck, I’ll have August out before the end of September. Until then:

Get Vaccinated!  Tell your family & friends! Stop the Pandemic!  Please!

Remember, you can support this and all my other writing work, including Frost Harrow, Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors, and more, by joining my Patreon for a buck or two a month.  Thanks!