Within just a few years of Asia-Pol‘s release, Nikkatsu hit financial rock bottom and was forced to retool itself from being a purveyor of action films to the stylish kink of the more lucrative Roman Porno films it became known for in the seventies.
While my gullible faith in the high-concept team-up often let me down, I was certain that Tony Randall versus Klaus Kinski in a lighthearted Eurospy adventure would live up to the promise.
If you like the AIP Poe films or don’t mind lots of dialog, this is a good old-fashioned occult thriller that winds up being a great way to spend midnight, provided you don’t have any decadent rich parties that devolve into an orgiastic ritual lorded over by a vampire to attend at midnight.
I wonder why the only time Superargo uses his super strength is when he throws the tree at the robots. The rest of his powers are pretty useless. He gets to levitate once, but he misses the chance to really piss off Dr. Wond by using mental powers to shatter the madman’s assortment of antique vases.
Wading through the copious amounts of nonsense, bad comedy, and offbeat pacing is more than the average film fan will endure. If you watch a lot of Eurospy films, however, you’re a little bit better suited for watching Two Undercover Angels and enjoying it, because you’ll be accustomed to quirky spy films with crazy fashion and convoluted plots.
Satirical or not, what I definitely find The Face of Fu Manchu to be is a rollicking good adventure yarn, full of fist fights, car chases, exploding monasteries, underwater lairs, and fiendish traps.
Having just completed a heist, Diabolik, returns to his sprawling, space-age underground lair full of cool mod furnishings, where he and his staggeringly beautiful girlfriend proceed to make love on a gigantic rotating bed covered in piles upon piles of the money he’s just stolen.
Premature Burial remained for a long time the ignored entry into Corman’s cycle, more or less skipped over as people hastened to get from Pit and the Pendulum on to Tales of Terror, Masque of the Red Death and The Raven, when everything was back as it should be and Vincent Price was once again stalking across the screen
Lee is less of a presence here than in the last film, and his shadow doesn’t seem to loom as powerfully over everything when he’s not present as it did in Prince of Darkness. But when he does show up, he looks exquisite.
Whether or not Pit and the Pendulum is a better film than House of Usher is a moot question. What is important is that it’s not a disappointment. It maintains the lofty standards set by the first film and proved the success — both artistically and financially — was no fluke.