April 2022 Mini-Reviews – Karloff the Man Behind the Monster to IT

The best-laid plans… Ah… You know the rest.

Suffice to say that here it is, the start of June 2022, and I somehow didn’t manage to get this set of reviews published in May.  No big deal, but I always try to get my reviews posted for y’all to read the month after I’ve seen the movies and TV shows.

This month, we get the finale of Veronica Mars, a bunch of kaiju films, Mexican horror movies, and even hanging out with sharks and Thor.  Dig in and dig it!

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.

Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster ***** Brilliant, well-constructed biography of Boris Karloff, the most famous monster actor of all time. Great interviews, etc.
Dr. Pyckle & Mr. Pryde (1925) **** Stan Laurel (pre-team-up with Hardy) is both sides of the mad scientist coin in this funny 2-reel takeoff on Jekyll & Hyde.
Haunted Spooks (1920) *** Harold Lloyd must help his wife inherit a house by living there, despite it being “haunted” by greedy relatives. Funny. Some racism.
Things Happen at Night (1947) *** Rewatch. A family tries to cope with a poltergeist problem in their home, but various authorities fail. Fun Brit Supernatural comedy.
Who Killed Doc Robin (1948) *** Virginia Grey & rascally kids try to prove their friend didn’t kill Dr. Robbin (George Zucco) by visiting his haunted house. Cinecolor.
Fiend Without a Face **** A military base & mind experinents manifest in the form of invisible killer monsters. End where monsters are visible is great stuff.
Giant Spider Invasion, The *** Good restoration of Bill Rebane’s film gives it a legitimacy it didn’t have as spiders from space invade a small Wisconsin town. Fun.
Beast with Five Fingers, The **** Peter Lorre steals the show in this thriller where a murdered musician’s hand is suspected of wreaking havoc on heirs.
Veronica Mars (S4) ***** Hulu’s only season of VM thus far has all the best elements from the original show, including guest stars (& controversial ending).
BattleBots (S 2021) ***** Modern BattleBots are faster & more destructive, which makes for great final tournament & ultimate showdown for 2021’s Giant Nut.
Werewolf of London (Sven) **** Henry Hull is the titular monster, facing off against rival Warner Oland in seeking a cure for his “werewolfery.” At times very creepy.
Vampire (1979) *** TV movie starts with a dramatic resurrection sequence, but then slows to a crawl in this standard vampire tale, likely a failed pilot.
Castlevania: Hymn of Blood *** Dracula’s bastard son grows up to try to track dad down & pay him back for all the murder & chaos. Well-produced fan film.
A Vampire’s Eve *** Short film with a group of kids facing off against vampires on Halloween. Enjoyable. Well done.
Vampire (1987) ** Amateur 8mm-style film with teens or 20-somethings tracking down vampires. Amateurish but not bad.
Werewolf Shadow **** Paul Naschy’s werewolf hangs out with sexy (but doomed) women before finally confronting vampire countess. Monster goodness.
Once Upon a Dracula *** Florida man is bitten by a vampire. Then afflicts his roommate, & then… The cycle continues in this modern vampire comedy short.
Wolf Man, The (Sven) ***** Classic & still the best werewolf film. Strong cast led by Lon Chaney, Jr., whose heroism leads him to be cursed at moonrise.
Terminatrix *** Kei Mituzani (Super Sentai Gingaman) is sent from future to stop evil sex robot in Terminator-inspired softcore adventure.
Ship of Monsters (La nave de los Monstruos) **** Mexican horror comedy with a signing cowboy, sexy Martians, & a spaceship full of monsters to kidnap men for mates. Silly fun.
Adventure to the Center of the Earth (Aventura Al Centro De La Tierra) *** Adventurers seek not just the center of the Earth, but also explanation for a mysterious death. A variety of monsters — with both distance & close-up masks (which look better) plus clips from other movies ensue. But, still Mexi-horror fun.
Castle (S6) **** Castle & Beckett’s season-long engagment pits the couple against wedding plans amid the usual murders & the usual cliffhanger.
Godzilla King of the Monsters (doc) *** Documentary created to herald the abortive 1998 US version of Godzilla still has good behind-the-scenes shots & info.
Return of the Giant Monsters (1967 – Gamera vs. Gyaos) **** One of the best of the original 1960s Gamera films. Pits the flying turtle against arch-nemesis flying laser bat Gyaos for 1st time.
Great Buddha Arrival, The (2018) *** Sometimes puzzling project to re-create a lost 1934 Japanese film combines reporter doing interviews with giant Buddha walking.
War of the God Monsters (1985) ** Beautiful new print can’t help this Korean film that’s slow up front & packed with borrowed Ultraman monster footage at end. Meh.
Godzilla vs. Mito Komon (1991) **** Very funny short film with one Japanese guy playing Godzilla, the Giant Majin, & many others, plus humming classic theme music.
Mothra vs. Godzilla ***** Dai Kaiju films don’t get better: Tale of stolen giant egg, greedy businessmen, intrepid reporters, twin fairies & Mothra vs. Godzilla.
Ultraman Sorta vs. Godzilla *** Godzilla comic artist Matt Frank & friend try to prevent cheezy Godzilla from destroying city by becoming Sorta Ultraman. Silly fun.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters **** While not as good as the original, this US adapatation with Raymond Burr is still a nearly perfect giant monster story. Moving.
Mighty Gorga, The *** (or *) Crazy, low-budget quest for a giant ape (suit) had little to redeem it, until the puppet dinosaurs! Hilarious. Might be 1 Star for most.
Silver Chalice, The *** The minimalist sets, the Biblical scenery chewing, Paul Newman mis-cast in his 1st role… But Jack Palance flies! Crazy Bible Epic.
Barabbas **** Anthony Quinn is the criminal pardoned instead of Christ in this brooding Biblical epic with fine atmosphere, scenes, & thought.
Hurricane Heist, The *** The setting & some crazy action pieces make this fairly standard actioner a lot of fun to watch. Good sets & off-and-on SPFX.
Trip to the Moon, A (1902) ***** George Melies’ masterpiece fantasy about a group of scientists shooting themselves to the moon. Restored hand-painted color.
Shark Beach with Chris Hemsworth **** The star of Thor surfs & interviews shark experts trying to save the great fish from human & ecological threats. Good.
Noah **** Darren Aronofsky reimagines the Biblical story as mythology a la Lord of the Rings & a medidation on justice vs. mercy. Near great.
Galaxina ** Dorothy Straten (PMOY) stars as a sexy robot in a mostly un-sexy scifi space parody with ideas & images but not much oomph.
Mondo Macabro: Classic Mexican Horror **** Strong survey by Mondo Macabro of Mexican horror films, some of which are definitely not safe for the kiddies.
Loba, La (The Wolf Woman) 1965 *** Woman turns into a bounding werewolf. Man comes seeking a cure. Werewolf hunter with killer dog seeks them. Crazy werewolf fun!
Endemoniada, La (The Possessed) 1968 *** Like Bava’s Black Sunday, wicked woman is concemed to death, returns centuries later to seek new body with vampire boyfriend.
Ghost of Frankenstein (Sven) *** Igor frees the Frankenstein Monster (Chaney Jr.) & sets out to get him powered up by another Frankenstein son. Excellent cast. Fun.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (Sven) ***** One of the greats, the first Universal monster mash brings Wolf Man (Chaney Jr.) back from the grave to seek a cure & the Frankenstein Monster (Lugosi) along to help him. Strong cast & story overcome studio edits & create a classic. Even has a song!
Only Murders in the Building (S1) ***** Steve Martin, Martin Short, & Selina Gomez are a mismatched team of apartment mates trying to solve a murder. Brilliant. Funny.
Batwoman, The *** Mexican knockoff of the Batman TV show has scantily clad women wrestler Batwoman as a Bond-type vs. mad scientist. Fun.
Panther Women, The *** A witch and women who are part panther vs. a group of female luchadores, mixing it up in & out of the ring. Entertaining.
Operation Condor ***** Jackie Chan directed this treasure hunt romp (Armour of the Gods sequel) with Jackie & 3 women looking for Nazi gold in the desert. Features an amazing array of stunts & fights, including some of Jackie’s best work. Plus a bit of nudity in US version. Don’t miss it!
IT! (1967) *** Roddy McDowell is museum underling with eyes on curator who wakes the Golem. Monster-psycho mix with rushed ending. But fun.

Total noteworthy films, shorts, and series for the month of April 2022 = 48.

Running total for 2022 = 159.

Next month:  More Jackie Chan, Season 2 of Picard, Season 1 of Halo, Moon Knight, and the accidental worst closing film of the month I’ve had in a long time.  Tune in to find out what that might be(e)!

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