Cultural Gutter: Over the Moon, Comrade

On the Cultural Gutter, Over the Moon, Comrade is my look at the Soviet science fiction adventure Cosmic Voyage and the film that inspired it, Fritz Lang’s Woman in the Moon.

Cultural Gutter: Vaudeville on Mars

Over on the Cultural Gutter, I’m writing about the musical science fiction spectacle Just Imagine. Vaudeville on Mars is a look at the similarities between the lavish 1930 Fox Studios production and the 1928 Soviet film Aelita, Queen of Mars; as well as a celebration of the outrageous costume and set design. All of which is really…

War of the Welles

The country was, in the autumn of 1938, primed for a panic. Amid this air of paranoia, a little known dramatist named Orson Welles stepped behind the microphone for another broadcast of a radio drama, CBS’ The Mercury Theatre on the Air. When I was young still and open of mind, my parents set me…

Vampyr

Vampyr is a silent film with sound, a surreal parade of images that found itself caught uncomfortably in between the end of the silent era and the dawn of talkies. A critical and commercial failure in its day, it is never the less a stunning, hypnotic visual feast that has since taken its rightful place…

The 39 Steps

Alfred Hitchcock’s original 1935 version of The 39 Steps is one of those films that’s so seminal that when watched today it can seem like little more than a parade of hoary old clichés; that is, until you consider that The 39 Steps is where many of those clichés originated. The film lays a foundation…

China Seas

“It’s bad enough to have a ship that looks like this and a captain who looks like me without having a chief officer who looks like you.” — Captain Alan Gaskell When the winds roar and the rain whips at the streaked windows of my abode on tumultuous Saturday nights, plunging the world into an…

Think Fast, Mr. Moto

“Mr. Moto is a very difficult fellow to kill.” — Mr. Moto 1937’s Think Fast, Mr. Moto, starring Hungarian actor Peter Lorre as a witty, karate-chopping Japanese man of mystery, introduces us to the budget films version of Charlie Chan. It seems that the specific nature of Mr. Moto changes as the series progresses, and…

Maniac

If exploitation cinema can be traced to a single wellspring from which all its filth and fury flows, an argument can be made that said wellspring is Dwain Esper

The Moonstone

The Moonstone marks our first real foray into a universe in which we will be spending a lot of time: the Poverty Row thriller. An understanding of what Poverty Row was — if not an actual appreciation for its product — is an important part of any cult film education (and given the way you…

Captain Blood

Although I was late in coming to this ad other Flynn films, I consider it one of the absolute best adventure films ever made, crammed to bursting with strong characters, great ship-to-ship battles, sword fights, and romance.