Creature of Destruction

“There is no monster in the world so treacherous as man.” So we are reminded at the beginning of Larry Buchanan’s Creature of Destruction and, just in case we forgot, at the end of the film as well. I like a film with a message, but the message is considerably less interesting if the film…

Mad Science and Martian Maidens

Russian author Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy wrote the stories that served as the source material for two of the Soviet Union’s best-known science fiction adventures: the futurist fantasy Aelita, Queen of Mars and the Fantomas-inspired pulp thriller The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin. Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy was Russia’s less internationally known Tolstoy. While the one was writing…

Cultural Gutter: The Gentleman Adventurer

I have a new Frolic Afield up on The Cultural Gutter: The Gentleman Adventurer takes a look at the BBC series Adam Adamant Lives! A swashbuckling Edwardian gentleman, quick with his cane-sword or a witty retort, is frozen in time and revived in swingin’ sixties London, where accompanied by his go-go girl sidekick, he immediately…

Oh, What a Lovely War

Richard Attenborough directs this farcical yet horrifying send-up of the grueling First World War, based on an absurdist stage musical written by Joan Littlewood. On August 4, 1914, Germany declared war on and subsequently invaded Belgium, a declared neutral in the escalating conflict between France, Russia, and the allied countries of German and Austria-Hungary. Europe…

The Devil Rides Out

Hammer and Christopher Lee tackle Satan and Dennis Wheatley’s occult adventurer Duc de Richleau on one of the studio’s finest horror films, despite some shoddy special effects at the back end.

Deadlier than the Male

The phrase “in the wake of James Bond’s success” is probably the single most over-used phrase in any examination of the flood of spy films that flowed freely onto screens worldwide in the wake of James Bond’s success. Unfortunately, facts are facts and while the Bond films certainly were not the first espionage thrillers to…

Gentlemen’s Blog to Midnite Cinema: Lightning Bolt

Frolicking Afield over at the Gentlemen’s Blog to Midnite Cinema again, the official companion to the Gentlemen’s Guide to Midnite Cinema podcast. And this time I’m talking Antonio Margheriti, James Bond rip-off Eurospy films, and Lightning Bolt, a thriller in which the hero tries to avoid conflict by offering to pay his nemesis off, then…

Ypotron

There’s a problem often faced by those of us who chose to both watch and write about the Eurospy films of the 1960s: as enjoyable as they can be, and fun and breezy and cool, there is often very little that can be said about them in the form of an article. When you try…

The Fabulous World of Karel Zeman

If you took special effects film pioneer Georges Melies and combined him with stop motion animation genius Ray Harryhausen and surreal fantasist Terry Gilliam, then taught him to speak Czech, you’d have a film maker very close to Karel Zeman. I was strolling across Prague’s Karluv Most, as is the way of a jetsetting international…

Interpol 009

Interpol 009 has everything you’d want in a 1960s spy movie–except for a memorable villain, a spectacular crime, and audacious action set pieces. On balance that leaves you with attractive stars, lots of nicely photographed scenes shot in glamorous locations, some nice cars, and a lot of fun gadgets. Fortunately, thanks to its amiable tone…

Cazadores de Espias

The Mexican film industry’s contributions to the 1960s spy craze tend to be on the whimsical side. If they don’t feature a masked wrestler in a pivotal role, they tend to be something along the lines of Agente 00 Sexy, in which heroine Amadee Chabot spends a lot of time wearing a Frederick’s of Hollywood-style…

Raumpatrouille Orion

To the very limited extent that the German science fiction series Raumpatrouille Orion (full English title: Space Patrol – The Fantastic Adventures of the Starship Orion) is known in my own United States, it tends to be the victim of a certain unfair association. On those pitifully rare occasions when it’s mentioned, it’s seldom without…