Sci Fi comics, flicks, serials

I read a lot of silver age comics, usually in collected editions. Lately I’ve been slowly going through DOCTOR SOLAR and the Charlton Steve Ditko  CAPTAIN ATOM. I really like the “Atom Age” stuff in comics and movies.  I like the confident and capable military, the egghead scientists, the hot babes, the cars, the monsters, even the furniture.  As a kid, the Dell comics really stood out because of their sophisticated painted covers by George Wilson. The first two Solars had covers by Richard Powers which were quite cool as well. The Ditko Atom’s have been short and more fantastical than Solar but often have flying saucers and vaguely Red Curtain villains such as Gustav Borlin. Captain Atom seems to foil a lot of missile plots. As I read a couple of these stories I found myself wanting to see a movie set in the same time, which is what let me to my double feature of Fungoid scifi excitement-SPACE MASTER X-7 and MUTINY IN OUTER SPACE.

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Doctor Solar Man of the Atom 7 03-1964

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I also have accumulated a decent amount of shorts, cartoons and serials that I usually try to work in before the features. I t takes a while to work through a serial as I watch a couple of chapters from two or three different ones a week. I try to mix it up between a scifi, jungle, super hero, western and so on. Right now, I just finished THE REURN OF CHANDU and am working on THE PHANTOM, RAIDERS OF THE LOST CITY and now BRICK BRADFORD. Kids love the Brick Bradford! Oh man. Kane Richmond stars as manly man Brick, who is wrapped up trying to thwart spies from stealing Dr. Tymak’s interceptor ray. Dr. Tymak has traveled to the moon via his “crystal door”. Fortunately the moon has an atmosphere and looks a lot like Californy. On the less fortunate side, it is ruled by a tyrannical moon bitch named Khana. Chapter one was entitled “Atomic Defense”. The serial is based on the comic strip, duh.

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I decided on some Stooges and went with “Ants in the Pantry” from the first re-mastered Stooges collection 1934-1936. 

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I started on CARTOONS THAT TIME FORGOT from Netflix. The first two starred Flip the Frog. Nothing special but okay enough. 

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So for years now I’ve been tortured by a vague childhood memory of a movie where a plant attacks a space station. All I remembered was a shot of the station with the plant wrapped around it. I would think of it from time to time but for whatever reason never got a copy. At one point I was sure it was either SPACE MASTER X-7 or MUTINY IN SPACE. Recently I got the Fox Movie Channel because I saw they were showing SPACE MASTER X-7 and I recorded it. I also got a copy of MUTINY off ebay. Turns out, the movie from my childhood was MUTINY but both were interesting in their own way.

SPACE MASTER X-7  takes a documentary/police procedural approach to the problem of space fungus spreading on earth. A satellite  gets an unknown fungus and brings it to earth where the super busy scientist Dr. Pommer ( played by the awesome Paul Frees) studies it. He’s busy because some broad he knocked up years ago keeps bugging him about the custody of a child they had while he attempts the extraordinarily difficult task of studying the “blood rust” space fungus. She essentially causes him to infect himself by being a pain in the ass. The rest of the movie has two agents tracking her as she pulls a “typhoid Mary” by unwittingly spreading the Blood Rust about the country. It’s a fun flick that doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense but it’s never boring. Frees is great and it’s cool to see him in an acting role. Moe Howard plays a cab driver and has several scenes. The satellite is the X-7 which is really not that big of a part in the flick.  BLOOD RUST would’ve been a better title.

 

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I thought I remembered MUTINY IN SPACE as being in color but apparently not. While made in 1965 it plays more like a fifties scifi flick,. A couple of space pilots bring a sample from the lunar ice caves that contains a deadly fungus which spreads through Satellite x-7. Maybe the similarity in satellite names is what made me confuse the two flicks. That and the fact that I haven’t seen the flick since 1972 or so. There’s a couple of hot big haired babes on the satellite as well as a commander suffering from what’s called “Space Rapture”(think Ren’s Space Madness). This is where the mutiny comes in as the delusional commander has to be overthrown so the fungus can be fought. The fungus eats a guy before growing into a big killer plant-like menace, eventually growing on the outside of the satellite. Again, it doesn’t make a lot of sense but is a fun flick. It had an EC Comics WEIRD SCIENCE feel to it.

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Last Night’s Viewing: A FACE IN THE FOG 7/28/09

 

Well, not so much on TV as on dvd. But anyway, I busted out Treeline Films 100 CARTOON CLASSICS. First up FELIX THE CAT in APRIL MAZE. The thing for me about these old b & W cartoons is that they are often just plain weird as well as nightmarish. Poor Felix attempts a picnic of sort that goes poorly. 

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Things keep going south when a walking tree, a snake and a rabbit conspire against poor Felix. Eventually a stork shows up with more kittens for no reason.

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Next was the remarkably incorrect UNCLE TOM’S CABANA with UNCLE TOM AND LITTLE EVA, who apparently is a hippo. Look I didn’t make this cartoon so keep Big Al Sharpton away from me. But as a historical curiousity it’s something. Not sure Treeline knows what’s on its set. Not sure of the plot but there is some watermelon, cotton picking, slave auction and comedy.

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Next it was time to finish the DICK TRACY serial with Chapter 15, BROTHERS UNITED. Dick has been captured by “THE LAME ONE” and is given to the hunchback scientist MOLOCH for a brain experiment. Dick’s brother GORDON has already been operated on and has been an evil pawn of The Lame One” for most of the serial. Gordon snaps out of it long enough to die and redeem himself. This serial was a lot better than I thought it would be with airships, a flying wing,  boat chases, a sonic weapon used on the Golden Gate Bridge and bizarre surgery. Evil Gordon has a white streak in his hair like Bogart in THE RETURN OF DOCTOR X.

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Next the 1935 THREE STOOGES short HORSES’ COLLARS. The boys head out west to solve one of those missing will/deed/IOU things for some dame with hilarious results. From Vol I of the newly re-mastered THREE STOOGES COLLECTION. Turns out, Curly has psychotic fits when he sees a mouse and cheese is the antidote. 

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Finally, the poverty row feature  A FACE IN THE FOG.  I got this from Sinister Cinema at some point although I don’t remember why. The disc starts off with the trialer for the vastly superior poverty row chiller STRANGLER IN THE SWAMP, a creepy atmospheric ghost story worth seeking out.  A FACE IN THE FOG features a series of poisoning murders around a playhouse. The killer is nicknamed the Fiend and is allegedly a hunchback. It’s nearly incoherent but okay enough if you like this kind of thing.

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I'd add whiners to the list too.

I'd add whiners to the list too.

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Last Night’s Viewing

Well it all began with turning off the Obama infomercial/ used car sale  and went uphill from there. Not that he’s not fabulous in HD, but still. So, first up:

A cartoon of course. From 1941, WOODY WOODPECKER from THE WOODY WOODPECKER AND FRIENDS CLASSIC CARTOON COLLECTION.

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Followed by THE HYP-NUT-TIST from POPEYE THE SAILOR  VOL ONE, a truly awesome collection.

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Serial time! Chapter 2, “The House in the Hills”, of  THE RETURN OF CHANDU. Not as ripping as a Republic serial but I like Lugosi as a mystic. I dig thirties and forties swami heroes and villains.

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And finally the main feature, from 1944 the cowboy B-picture WILD HORSE PHANTOM! How cool is that? Kids on the internet love forties B-westerns. This stars Buster Crabbe! You know, FLASH GORDON himself. It clocks in at under an hour and I’m pretty sure it used the Devil Bat prop bat from the Lugosi perfume bat revenge thriller THE DEVIL BAT. Buster chases some escaped convicts to a spooky mine. It’s part of the CREEPY COWBOYS COLLECTION.

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Gorillanaut TV: I SPY

I have the haziest memories of I SPY as a kid but I always associated it with cool. I probably got that idea from my older brothers who were in their late teens in the mid-60’s and from my father who was essentially Nick Fury without the eye patch. I love the 60’s spy craze stuff and the period up until the dirty hippies ruined it.  But enough about me, this ain’t no therapy session. 

So Robert Culp and Bill Cosby really play well off of one another, it’s just so effortlessly cool. The episode I watched was “So Long, Patrick Henry” with Ivan Dixon playing an Olympian who defected to Red China. Can we still say “Red China” or is that against the rules? Sometimes I forget how big a pussy I’m supposed to pretend to be so I don’t hurt some cocksucker’s feelings. Anyway, Scott and Robinson are sent to talk him into coming back or kill him.  Scott’s all for killing him. Together they shoot four or five Red Chinese which was slightly surprising and quite frankly, refreshing. The Reds inject Dixon’s Mr. Brown with typhoid in order to stop the defection. The episode was written by Culp and is really quite sharp and lean. I liked that these guys had a sense of professional weariness and a no bullshit approach. James (Lo Pan ) Hong has a bit part. Indeed!

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Gorillanaut TV reviews

I decided that summer was a good time to dig into the TV library and pluck something out to review. Today it’s THE WILD, WILD WEST episode “The Night the Dragon Screamed” from the Season One dvd set.  It’s a fairly solid episode concerning warring Opium gangs and a treacherous British officer trying to seize  control. In a lot of ways it seemed to be the template for BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA.  Besides the two Chinese gangs, there’s also a kidnapped princess and a  restaurant/opium den filled with hidden chambers littered with collapsing floors and pits of spikes. There’s even an old Tong leader in a wheelchair and Jim and Arte are imprisoned in a variation of  “the hell of being boiled alive”.  My favorite part has Arte’s less than convincing make up as a Chinese  munitions expert. Jim has a kung fu style with a room full of guards and Arte is caught in an arcane torture device. Good stuff.

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Batman vs. the obese pederast known as Sweet Tooth

So I’m watching THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN dvd set the other day when the episode entitled  “A Sweet Joke on Gotham City” comes on. Holy Shit! You’re not gonna see this kind of thing ever again. SWEET TOOTH is an obese, Paul Lynde -like voiced sissy that wants to turn Gotham’s water supply into chocolate syrup. His gang consist of some fat kids with rotten teeth. Robin goes undercover as a candy loving plumper. In these days when even Cookie Monster has a disclaimer, this could never happen.

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Bat- Mite gets a facial

Bat- Mite gets a facial

 

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WEREWOLF ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

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VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: WEREWOLF Sept 25,1966

The Seaview is sent to monitor a radioactive volcano that may soon erupt. Two scientists already on the island are attacked by a wolf. One dies, and the other is infected by a virus that causes him to change from man to werewolf and back again. When the survivor is brought aboard, Admiral Nelson becomes infected with the “werewolf” virus.