Thursday, August 16, 2007

Hall of Strangeness Part XVIII

Master of the Flying Guillotine – (Jimmy Wang Yu) I debated several formats for writing this review: letting the title speak for itself (too short) vs. making a comprehensive list of things that the master of the flying guillotine could decapitate (too long). Suffice it to say, this long forgotten martial arts showdown (the negative was believed lost until 2001) is a nearly non-stop shamelessly-awesome fight sequence culminating in a battle between the blind title character and a one-armed boxer.
Artistry: ** Fun: ***** Strangeness: ***

Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People – (Ishiro Honda) The usual mish-mash of clashing personalities is stranded on a tropical island with little to eat in this 1960’s Japanese supernatural thriller. The rusty, spore-covered shell of military vessel on the coast is no great reassurance. Just as the title suggests, they are eventually attacked by (and transformed into) giant mushrooms. Unforgettable monster suits and some psychedelic sets in the final act lead to an amusing “important lesson” ending. The film is based on “The Voice in the Night,” a 1907 short story by horror grandmaster William Hope Hodgson (an influence on Lovecraft and later Stephen King), to date the only feature length film adaptation of Hodgson’s underappreciated work. His epic novels “House on the Borderland” and “The Night Land” are ripe for screen versions.
Artistry: ** Fun: *** Strangeness: ***

Microcosmos – (Claude Noridsany) This French documentary uses miniature cameras planted throughout a field to record the lives of insects on their own scale. Set to classical music and assembled with loving care, the world of bugs is brought to life more impressively than any Discovery channel special or fictional family film has ever achieved.
Artistry: *** Fun: ** Strangeness: **

Modesty Blaise – (Joseph Losey) Modesty Blaise (Monica Vitti), as the title song proclaims, is a French 60’s super-sexy super-spy who is really anything but modest. The government hires her and her knife throwing partner (played by Terrence Stamp) to stop international villain/playboy Gabriel (Dirk Bogarde) from stealing diamonds mid-shipment. Op Art, go-go dancing, spherical lights, umbrella guns and lipstick gadgets ensue. Note the way that the foxy duo’s hair changes color and style not just every scene, but mid-scene also.
Artistry: ** Fun: **** Strangeness: ***

Monsieur Hire – (Patrice Leconte) A masterpiece of subtly and mood, Monsieur Hire evokes the danger and eroticism that lies just below the surface of deadly crime. Voyeuristic Hire, a sex-murder suspect, falls in love at a distance with his neighbor Alice, and even as the romance begins to ignite in reality, the unspoken secrets that each possesses multiplies the tension. Eerie and effective, Leconte’s psychological thriller also shines in camera work and cinematography.
Artistry: ***** Fun: *** Strangeness: **


Mad Dog said...

Who would win: Modesty Blaise or Chastity Jackson?

FilmWalrus said...

Modesty Blaise would definitely stand a fighting chance. She has her own theme song, gallons of attitude, magic 60's hair, sexist gadgets and a handsome assistant. I definitely favor 60's superspies over blaxploitation badasses, but that is just personal taste. I think that ultimately it would depend on who had the taller polyester boots.