March 2024 Mini-Reviews: Flipper’s New Adventure to Tarzan & His Mate

When I caught up writing my reviews for February 2024, I decided I would not fall behind again for March.  So, I’m actually writing this at the start of April, rather than the end.

I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I’m now watching 2 different Midsomer Murders seasons, because my PBS station is showing newer ones while I’m still catching up with historical ones on Tubi.  MM, a weird-cozy mystery series, is one of my favorite shows — and great “comfort” viewing.  So, that’s why we’re getting odd show and season indicators.  BTW, each show in the series is also 90+ minutes long and self contained, which is why I review them individually, rather than by series (like, say Father Brown — also reviewed this month).

Additionally, we have the final 2 films I have in the Tremors series (don’t have Shrieker Island yet), plus a number of my favorite series, including For All Mankind and Halo. With all that ahead, what are you waiting for?

* – 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.

Note that some shows I’ve given a parenthetical star rating, either adding or subtracting stars, depending on how your amusement may differ from mine. I’ve explained the meaning in the reviews themselves.  Usually.

Flipper’s New Adventure (1964) **** When a move is threatened, Bud & Flipper light out for a remote key, where they become secret mentors to some women stranded by kidnappers. Better than the original Flipper movie, this adventure tale echoes the TV show to come.
Saurian Cinema: Cryptozoology in Film **** YouTube appreciation of dinosaur & lost land films is a great survey of the field, revealing some films I didn’t know.
Invisible Man’s Revenge, The (Sven – 1944) *** An escaped criminal gets hold of the invisibility formula & uses it to take revenge on the shady folks who cheated him. While not as good as some of Universal’s other Invisible Man films, this entry has some innovative FX worth “seeing.”
Battleship (2012) *** Action-heavy alien invasion film based on the kids’ game is better than you might expect. Younger brother in the Navy picks up the baton of his fallen sibling to help Earth fight off a mechanized (Transformer-like) invasion.
Space Monster Wangmagwi (1967) **(*) Recently recovered early Korean kaiju film as a very cheesy monster & uneven episodic story as space aliens send a giant monster to help them conquer the world. But the test doesn’t go well, as a plucky kid helps thwart it. (Fun for me.)
Tremors 5 Bloodlines *** Burt Gummer travels to Africa with a new team to stop an incursion of Graboids that turns out to be much more difficult to solve than the locals first imagined. We get a look at a possibly ancient bloodline of the monsters & Burt, too. Fun.
Midsomer Murders 16-3 Wild Harvest **** The murder by wild boar of a hotel owner leads Barnaby & Nelson to a conflict between him, his heirs, & a five-star chef at a local restaurant. Can the murder be over some stolen truffles? What other motives are in the stew?
Doom (2005) *** A colony on Mars revives/creates a series of deadly mutant monsters that Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson & Karl Urban must stop — at any cost. Based on the famous video game, the film has ups & downs & isn’t completely satisfying.
Topper Returns **** Topper finds himself mixed up in an Old Dark House murder mystery with Joan Blondell as a mischievous ghost & friend of an heiress whose life is threatened. Not as good as the original, but Blondell keeps it lively & amusing.
Midsomer Murders 16-4 The Flying Club **** A man murdered by falling out of an airplane just starts a mysterious set of murders around a small airport in Midsomer. Naturally, motives & complications abound before Barnaby & Nelson. Bernard Cribbins adds some aged spice.
Death in Paradise (S5) **** Cozy Caribbean mystery series settles in and puts its rotating cast problems behind in this short but enjoyable season.
For All Mankind (S3) ***** The trials of getting to & colonizing Mars are only matched by the trials of the competing crews trying to get there (there are 3 ships to start) & the dramas that continue both internationally & locally back on Earth. Another great season.
Tremors 6 A Cold Day in Hell *** Graboids in frozen wastes? Nothing is impossible (though the snow is mostly in the opening sequence) as Burt Gummer returns with his estranged son for another go at the monsters. As always Michael Gross makes this enjoyable.
Annihilate All Humans (2023 with commentary) **** Christopher Mihm provides his usual witty & informative commentary about his latest film, where aliens decide that humans may be a threat & send their flying saucers to… Well, you know. Good behind-the-scenes on an amusing film.
13 Ghosts (1960 – Sven) **** One of William Castle’s best films, even without the ghost-viewer prop. An academic family struggling to meet day-to-day bills inherits an old mansion from a dead uncle who “collected ghosts” but only 12 so far. Family friendly.
Moon-Spinners, The (1964) *** Hayley Mills (& her British Aunt) find adventure, romance, & stolen jewels while on vacation on Crete. A bit slow.
Midsomer Murders 16-5 The Killings of Copenhagen ***** Barnaby & Nelson head to Denmark after a man’s death seems linked to a tin of biscuits made in Midsomer. There, they meet two women police detectives, their opposite numbers (who are every bit as amusing as our heroes). Of course, things escalate when another biscuit-related death causing the investigation to return to Midsomer.
Secret Land, The (1948) **** True story, shot as it happened, of Admiral Byrd’s expedition to explore Antarctica. Thrilling real-life adventures.
More about Nostradamus *(**) Short feature highlighting more prophecies of the famous (fake) seer. If they were true, it’d be amazing. (Amusing.)
Archer (S14) **** The death of the actress playing Archer’s mom took some of the wind out of the sails of this snarky, animated private spy series. So, it’s a good idea to wrap it up with plenty of familiar laughs & returning characters. A good bow out.
Sea Around Us, The (1953) *** Irwin Allen’s film about the wonders of the sea features lots of amazing animals/fish & expected of its time indifference.
Slime People, The (1963) *** Part of California is taken over but a Subterranean race that generates a wall of fog around their targets & preys on the humans trapped within. The Slime People are ugly, but not a bad set of monster suits. Not as bad as its reputation.
Roswell (Bill Brown short 1994) **** The life journal of Bill Brown as he travels the west & muses on the fate of a possible alien traveler stranded on Earth.
Comedy of Terrors, The (Sven 1963) **** Vincent Price & Peter Lorre run a cut-rate funeral service. They’re so cheap that they re-use their coffins after every service. Price’s long-suffering wife wants to sing (but can’t) & Price constantly tries to poison her father, Boris Karloff. A good Richard Matheson script & fine ensemble comedy performances makes this one of my favorite horror-comedies.
Midsomer Murders 21-3 Sting of Death ***** Prized bee hives & honey seem to hold the key to an attack that quickly escalates to a gruesome series of murders, the kind that Midsomer is famous for. The honey, meanwhile, is touted as having medicinal properties, that inspire both envy of the beekeepers, but also potentially figure into the murders that Barnaby & Nelson must solve. Nicely twisted.
Dreams in Gary’s Basement (2023) ***** Filmmaker Pat Kilbane dives into the history of (my friend) Gary Gygax, how he came to create Dungeons & Dragons, & the challenges that plagued his company, TSR, but ultimately led to a revolution in gaming & world culture.
Father Brown (S11) **** Father Brown pushes past some early story difficulties to deliver fine mysteries & character development, excellent end.
Halo (S2) ***** The action is amped up in this new season & I’ve read that the story is closer to the game series. All I know is that I liked the characters even more, got wrapped up in their trials & the suspense, & wanted more immediately when it was over. Hoping that the work is already going on S3. Great job by the actors & FX folks. The battle for Reach was great!
Dan Curtis’ Dracula (1974) **** Location shooting & Curtis’ spare, direct filmmaking plus Jack Palance in the title role give this version of Dracula a unique feeling, as does the grafting of Barnabas Collins’ “lost love” backstory, which seems to have stuck. Worth seeing.
Submarine D1 (1937) *** Submariners get caught up in testing new ideas, including how to rescue more men from sunken subs. Interesting.
Midsomer Murders 21-4 With Baited Breath ***** A Midsomer “mud run” gets tangled up with a local fishing contest, to catch a legendary local monster, resulting in… Murder, of course! Barnaby & Winter have to sort through conflicting agendas & hidden back stories to find the killer.
Shetland (S4) ***** When a convicted murderer is released from prison, it sets off a series of violent events on the remote island, including a murder & the fact that the man may have been innocent. Perez & Tosh travel to Norway & back to sort it out. Great.
He Knows You’re Alone (1980) ** Serial killer stalks young beautiful women (of course) for not much of a reason. Okay “kills” but unsatisfying story.
Death in Paradise (S6) **** More good mysteries & a cast changed handled much better than those in the past make this season memorable.
King Solomon’s Mines (1937) **** Woman looking for her father searching for the lost mines takes safari across Africa with an exiled prince (Paul Robeson) & professional adventurer Alan Quartermaine. Some of the usual imperialism, but an exciting climaxes
Gargoyles (Sven – 1972) **** The award-winning Stan Winston monster makeups highlight this creepy TV movie about an ancient race of creatures reawakening in the desert southwest & menacing an archaeologist, his daughter, & the locals. Great cast.
Tarzan & His Mate (1934) ***** The best of the early Tarzan films (maybe the best ever) has white hunters returning to Tarzan’s lost lands to find the elephants’ graveyard to loot its ivory. Tarzan & Jane may have something to say about that, but even before the climax, the film is chock full of perilous journeys, dangerous animal fights, hostile natives, & even a nude swim for Jane. One of the films that inadverently caused the Hayes Code crackdown, they literally didn’t make them like this for nearly 40 years after. While some of the imperialism and callousness toward the environment is hard to take, it still has its heart in the right place. Plus, it’s super fun to watch. Even though I prefer a more literate Tarzan, Weismuller has great physicality & Maureen O’Sullivan’s Jane brings not only that but an unmatched sensuality & smarts, too.

And that wraps it up for this month.  We’ve got 37 films for March, bringing our 2024 total to 141 so far.  Not too bad, considering a lot of March was taken up with worrying about, prepping for, and then attending 2 conventions (and a funeral).

NEXT MONTH: Well, April has barely started, so I don’t know what I’ll be watching — though I am on a Biblical film kick right at the moment, and I’m watching some Anime TV, though heaven only knows if I’ll complete any seasons to report on.  You can bet there’ll be more Midsomer Murders and more monsters, though.  Tune in and find out!

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About Steve Sullivan 421 Articles
Stephen D. Sullivan is an award-winning author, artist, and editor. Since 1980, he has worked on a wide variety of properties, including well-known licenses and original work. Some of his best know projects include Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dragonlance, Iron Man, Legend of the Five Rings, Speed Racer, the Tolkien RPG, Disney Afternoons, Star Wars, The Twilight Empire (Robinson's War), Uncanny Radio, Martian Knights, Tournament of Death, and The Blue Kingdoms (with his friend Jean Rabe).