Saturday, February 7, 2015


The Fighting O’Flynn (1949): I suspect Arthur Pierson’s swashbuckler featuring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as former Irish mercenary protecting Ireland (and the United Kingdom) from a Napoleonic plot, mostly doing so to woo Helena Carter, won’t be on anybody’s list of favourite swashbucklers, or even favourite swashbucklers with Fairbanks. It’s a bit slight even for a genre that doesn’t usually go for too much depth anyway, with nary a moment that actually feels dangerous for our hero and a tone that comes down slightly too much on the comedic side of the genre, undermining the melodrama and romance a little. The film is completely fluffy good fun, though, with Fairbanks giving an enthusiastic cliché Irishman that might even count as a racist stereotype, the plot zipping alone nicely, and boredom a faint memory while watching. So even though there’s little I’d call actually memorable about the film, it’s a very nice way to spend a lazy, too warm winter evening.

Der Fluch der gelben Schlange (1963): I probably should be all over Franz Joseph Gottlieb’s very pulpy Rialto Edgar Wallace krimi because of its pulpiness but it’s rather difficult to appreciate a film this unrelentingly racist. I know, it’s trying to shape itself after the Fu Manchu films and other Yellow Peril stuff but in a film made in 1963, this sort of thing just leaves a very bad aftertaste in the mouth particularly because the film doesn’t just use unexamined racist tropes like a lot of comparable material does, but seems really enthusiastic about its racial politics. That’s not much of a surprise in a German film, really, given the kind of racist wonderland Germany still is even 50 years later, with your typical German bourgeois losing all of the liberality he pretends to be so proud of when confronted with anybody who isn’t white, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be able (or willing) to enjoy it. It doesn’t help that Evil Eurasian™ Pinkas Braun’s yellowface is quite this egregiously bad, making even Christopher Lee’s version of Fu Manchu look authentic, that our heroine is a wet blanket even for a Wallace film, nor that our supposed hero Joachim Fuchsberger is as rude as he is racist. It’s all just so very unpleasant I really didn’t even found myself wanting to overlook the bullshit watching it.

Gallows Hill aka The Damned (2013): Victor García’s “stranded in an old house with a possessive witch” movie (that’s a sub-genre, right?) is perfectly fine entertainment for the 90 minutes or so it goes on. The acting’s fine all around, García knows how to pace this sort of thing, and the film does some neat things with the bilingual nature of some of its characters. Despite these virtues, I can’t say the film really grabbed me. The nature of its central evil is just a bit too played out right now, and the additional twist of a possessor who always hops into the body of the person who killed it doesn’t sit right with me, and feels more like a way to crank up the drama in easy ways than something that fits the monster’s background organically. I was also rather miffed by the film’s very clichéd hymns on family love even when it leads to Very Bad Things, and by the fact that the first act doesn’t do much work to actually prepare later character developments. It must have sounded like a good idea to have a monster that knows everyone’s dirty secrets, but it’s a wasted idea if a film never prepares these secrets but springs them on the audience with a “we needed a shocking plot twist here, so magic” gesture.

This doesn’t make Gallows Hill a bad film as much as one that wastes too many opportunities to be a great one.

1 comment:

Pratikshya Mishra said...

horror is difficult to watch and appreciate for me... still i like watching some for their good acting,..