Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wolfguy: Enraged Wolfman (1975)

The first manga I ever came into contact with was a little gem called Xenon (aka Heavy Metal Warrior Xenon aka Bio Diver Xenon) by Masaomi Kanzaki.  I found the premiere issue at my local comic shop, and I think it was published in America at that time by Eclipse, though I may be wrong about that.  I had encountered anime series like Battle Of The Planets (aka Science Ninja Team Gatchaman) and Tranzor Z (aka Mazinger Z), and loved the living hell out of them, so I was used to the general visual style and level of insanity.  But the sheer detail carried off in the comic was like something from another world for me (obviously, considering the time, labor, and money constraints between the two mediums this is no real surprise).  Xenon was essentially about a young man who has his body cybernetically modified and then gets attacked every month by a swelling cast of whacked out villains.  Needless to say, this was (and likely still is) like crack for a male teenaged comic book reader.  I think I still have a couple of issues, but I have been meaning to go back, collect the whole series, and re-read them.  I doubt that it would hold up for me half as well today, but I would like to think that, if nothing else, it might stave off the ever-increasing acedia that sits forever poised on the outer edges of my day-to-day.  Sweet fire of life, thy name be comics.  Maybe?

A crazed man careens through the streets of Tokyo, screaming about a were-tiger on his tail (sorry).  Running into tough-as-nails reporter (I think he’s a reporter, at any rate) Inugami (Shin’ichi Chiba), the man is ripped to shreds by invisible claws in front of our protagonist.  Later, the official coroner’s report lists cause of death as “spectral slasher” (of course it does).  Inugami takes it upon himself to find the mysterious singer Miki, who is the key to what’s happening.  Along the way many, many people get killed very violently.

Of course, Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s Wolfguy: Enraged Wolfman (aka Urufu Gai: Moero Okami-otoko aka Wolfguy: Enraged Lycanthrope) is based on a manga, and this largely accounts for its episodic nature.  However, it has been my experience that a great many of the films produced by film company Toei at this time (The Street Fighter, Sister Street Fighter, Female Prisoner Scorpion, etcetera) had this same narrative structure.  They would introduce a main character and a base storyline, and then they would drop the main character into a bunch of variegated situations (either action-oriented and/or sexual) until they suddenly brought it all back around to resolve the initial storyline.  They are lurid, violent, and they keep moving whether you can keep up with them or not.  This fitful approach can be off-putting to anyone who wants a straight, linear story.  Even though the various sections all relate back to the main plot at least tangentially, they only occasionally have much bearing on it or on developing it or moving it along, for better or worse.  This doesn’t particularly bother me as a viewer, because the sheer inventiveness of what they put the characters through is at least entertaining enough to never be completely boring.  While I’m speaking of style, I have to address Yamaguchi’s direction.  His camerawork is so frenetic, so willfully disorienting and nigh spasmodic, it does become quickly frustrating.  Add to that the fact that most compositions in the film are so tight as to be claustrophobic, to the point that even the blocking of many of the dialogue scenes is muddled.  Consequently, Wolfguy never really took off for me.  Mayhap, those more inured to this fashion of filmmaking will get more out of it.

Being a werewolf (who, incidentally, never actually transforms aside from his hair and eyebrows getting a trifle wilder; Inugami merely gains supernatural powers on the fifteenth day of every lunar cycle), the film is rife with references to the similarities between people and animals.  Reporters in general are referred to as “jackals.”  Inugami is told by a hot government agent that he’s “got sharp animal instincts” and he smells “like an animal, too” right before she has sex with him (just another day in the life of a Wolfguy).  Miki’s song contains the lyric “a woman’s claws are the claws of a tiger.”  Inugami chucks the vegetables from his dinner plate and stuffs massive chunks of steak into his mouth.  The rock band that were instrumental (ahem) in much of what happens are pared down to their basest animal desires.  Characters lick blood off their hands.  But two things emerge from all this.  One, only those truly in line with their animal nature are considered good or even have any sort of worth.  So, Inugami can best an agent given a transfusion of his blood handily, because Inugami can control his bestial side.  Miki’s rage is righteous because of what she has endured, and it has brought her inner nature into focus.  Two, this same feral aspect distances these characters from the rest of humanity.  Inugami is unlike anyone else, and he must remove himself from society because of this.  In a telling visual touch, Miki’s apartment is decorated with a wall-sized photo of herself holding a flower.  Considering how far she has been degraded, it creates a sharp statement about innocence (read: humanity) lost.  Inugami and Miki connect on an emotional level, but they must remain apart, because despite their similarities, Miki is still human and Inugami isn’t.  The only person our hero truly bonds with is someone who directly connects him to his deceased mother, and even this is destined not to last, because she is also human.

There is a streak of individualism running through the film, as well (as there is through the other examples cited above).  In the same way that the animal characters are outsiders, they are also directly in opposition to the massed forces of power in the film.  Inugami fights large gangs of yakuza and government agents all by himself.  Miki remains defiantly herself in the face of her attackers, and even when working at a low rent strip club, she refuses to take her clothes off despite the patrons heckling her and throwing objects at her.  It’s only when a character aligns themselves with the factions of power that they can be considered evil, because they have given up their unique personality and become just more fodder for the cannons of the dominant.  An interesting facet for a film that doesn’t quite manage to rise above its peers.

MVT:  It should go without saying that the film rests fundamentally on the shoulders of Chiba, and he handles this responsibility well.  It is, after all, why he was such a massive star for so long.  By that same token, he plays Inugami about the same as every other action role he attacked, giving no more or less than his usual one-hundred-and-ten percent.  If you liked him in everything else you’ve seen him in, you’ll like him equally here.

Make Or Break:  The opening scene sums up and foreshadows the film as well as any scene could.  It introduces Inugami and the “spectral slasher” angle, gives the audience some nice gore, and may just induce a slight bout of nausea with its cinematography.

Score:  6.5/10

Monday, March 24, 2014

Episode #280: Camille of Darkness

Welcoem to another action packed and slightly immature of your favorite genre podcast!!!

This week we are sponsored by diabolikdvd and it was Sammy's turn to pick and he chose Prince of Darkness (1987) directed by John Carpenter and we also did Todd's choice Camille 2000 (1969) directed by Radley Metzger!!!

Head over to and please tell them the GgtMC sent you over!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_280.mp3

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Black Scorpion (1995)

Directed by Jonathan Winfrey
Runtime: 92 minutes

Have you preformed parkour training on rooftops and fought off ten local hoodlums in high heels and still look great? Don't worry, neither have the writers of this movie and any guy who writes comic books. So on to the review of Black Scorpion.

The movie opens with The Lieutenant (IMDb lists the character as Lt. Stan Walker but throughout the movie the character is only ever referred to as The Lieutenant) is telling his daughter Darcy the story about the scorpion and the frog. This is cut short when a call on the police radio alerts The Lieutenant to a high speed pursuit near where he lives. So The Lieutenant tells Darcy to lock the door and go to bed and The Lieutenant goes out to do what the thing he does best being a bad ass cop.

Not only does he get ahead of the pursuit but he has time to have a quick smoke break. He then proceeds to shoot out the criminals tires with his off hand and shoot a eight rounds out of a revolver. This takes out the criminal's car and The Lieutenant had the forethought to call ahead for an ambulance. Unfortunately hospitals are The Lieutenant's kryptonite and everything goes wrong for him. The two criminals he caught feel that a car crash is not enough to slow them down so they steal some near by weapons to start some trouble.

The Lieutenant shoots and kills both criminals. He also shoots a doctor who was being used as a human shield and this act end his career as a bad ass cop. The movie jumps to seventeen years later were we see that Darcy is a cop just like her dad. She is a vice cop in Angel City and trying to arrest a pimp named Easy Street. Before Easy Street can say or do anything criminal, Darcy's partner Michael decides to play the white knight at the wrong time and destroys the investigation. 

Darcy's day gets worse as she has a birthday drink with her father when the district attorney walks into the bar. He take a puff of asthma medication and then opens fire and kills The Lieutenant. When the district attorney is arrested he can't remember anything that happened or why he would want to gun down the Lieutenant. Darcy does not buy the amnesia defence and takes an unloaded firearm into the holding area and has a gunpoint interrogation with the district attorney.

This gets her suspended and motivates her to take up masked vigilantism. So Darcy dresses up as a cross between a scorpion and a dominatrix and starts cleaning up the streets. First she walks into the strip club Easy Street uses to meet and hire new staff and throws him out a window killing him. Then she moves her reign of crime fighting to asthmatic criminals plaguing Angel City. As the Black Scorpion, Darcy fights yet more odd and wacky asthmatic criminals and draws the attention of the police.

After a run with the vice squad, Darcy's 1967 cherry red Stingray gets shot several times. This forces her to see Angus a reformed car thief, a genius with cars and technology, and owner and operator of a local chop shop. When Darcy tells Angus about being the Black Scorpion, Angus fixes her Stingray with stolen military technology that reorganizes matter into whatever you want. In short the Stingray becomes the Batmoblie.

This leads into the third act where the Black Scorpion ambushes Michael and rapes him. The Black Scorpion works out who is behind the wacky asthmatic criminals and Darcy comes to terms with being a vigilante. This causes the cliched final battle and resolution. The End.

Make or Break: What makes this movie for me is the over the top insanity of the characters and their abilities. It give the movie a comic book feel and add to my entertainment. What breaks it for me the the heroin of the movie raping her partner. Sure she feels bad about rapping and tasering him but it is was really unnecessary.

MVT: At one point Darcy throws away the Black Scorpion costume and this homeless guy find the costume in a dumpster. When she comes back to collect the costume and she wants to know why he was picking up the costume. To which he says that he is looking for the woman that goes with it. I thought it was the funniest part of the movie.

Score: 6.75 out of 10

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Instant Action: Rage and Honor (1992)

I have some honor, but I used to be filled to the brim with rage!

Written By: Terence H. Winkless
Directed By: Terence H. Winkless

I've heard a lot about Cynthia Rothrock through the years. I recall her being a staple in various trailers I would catch on the 1980s direct to video horror VHS tapes I rented back in the day. She was tiny, but she was always kicking someones ass. For me, this was sort of a revelation because I had grown up with the image of women not being able to hold their own against men. Miss Rothrock was something different, in the trailers at least. I was never able to get around to seeing any of her movies due to availability. When I finally saw one of her films pop up on Crackle I decided it was time to give the tiny but mighty mouse a try.

After all the hype and expectations, Rage and Honor was a major letdown. The film is billed as a vehicle for Cynthia Rothrock, but it's more of a vehicle for the oafish Richard Norton. He's a total drag, nowhere near as dynamic or interesting as Miss Rothrock. While he's busy supplying terrible dialogue with little to no charm, Miss Rothrock is forced to skulk in the background. So much of the focus is put on Mr. Norton that when it finally comes time for the end game, Miss Rothrock is barely a factor. It was kind of sad watching Miss Rothrock be tossed to the side in favor of such an inept action actor as Mr. Norton.

When the film did focus on Miss Rothrock it was at its best. She is tiny, but she packs quite the punch and she has a very effervescent personality. The camera is drawn to her, and she makes the most of those moments with the camera. I was able to buy her as an ass kicker because of how dynamic she seemed. Basically, watching Miss Rothrock was like watching the energizer bunny, only even cuter.

Sadly, Rage and Honor doesn't stick with Miss Rothrock and spends most of its run time trying to make sense of a nonsense plot. At a certain point the story is straining so much to make sense that it wraps all the way around into making even less sense. As stated earlier, it doesn't help that the true focus of the film is the cardboard cutout named Richard Norton. He has no charisma, and his movements in the fight scenes struck me as especially clunky and not visually pleasing. His character, and his acting, is a major detriment to the film, but he is where Terence H. Winkless thinks the film is at its strongest.

I'll be searching out more from Cynthia Rothrock moving forward, but Rage and Honor was a major letdown. The toothless action, ogre like hero, and lack of time spent with Miss Rothrock are all large issues within the film. Were the action better and Miss Rothrock the actual lead of Rage and Honor I could see myself giving the film a pass. As it stands Rage and Honor is a feeble attempt at an action film that squanders all the good it contains. It's hard to have a bad movie when Brian Thompson is the villain sporting a killer mullet. Yet, Rage and Honor is such a movie, and that's not excusable.



Bill Thompson

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Concorde Affair (1978)

I’ve spoken before about my half-Italian ancestry.  I don’t really go making a big deal over it, but this, combined with having a rather large family of siblings, led directly to how I express myself in conversation, I think (not necessarily in my writing, though feel free to disagree).  You see, most times, conversing with my family involves one of two modes of speech (and sometimes even a combination of both): yelling and screaming.  It’s not uncommon to have dinner with my family and go home with an acute case of tinnitus, and that’s if all you’re asked about is passing something to someone.  Topical conversations can quickly become shouting matches that would put almost any government bureaucracy and their modes of debate to shame.  This is not to say that there are ill feelings involved.  Far from it.  This is merely the knuckle-dusting, teeth-gnashing, ear-splitting method of communication with which I was raised.  There’s still love at work underneath it all, though for an outsider, this may be difficult to comprehend.  Unlike the titular vehicle of Ruggero Deodato’s The Concorde Affair (aka Concorde Affaire ’79), my family and I don’t need massive engines doing over Mach One to break the sound barrier.  We have our natural speaking voices.

Evil businessmen Milland (Joseph Cotton) and Danker (Edmund Purdom) are up to hijinks, shenanigans, and all-around malfeasance.  Concurrently, a Concorde on a test flight suddenly encounters all sorts of issues and crashes somewhere around the Antilles archipelago.  Maverick reporter Moses Brody (James Franciscus) receives a phonecall from his ex-wife Nicole (Fiamma Maglione), who just so happens to own a swank restaurant in the Caribbean, and she informs him that she has crucial information regarding the plane’s crash and urges Moses to come down and investigate.  So he does.  Meanwhile, stewardess (back before they were more commonly referred to as “flight attendants”) Jean (Mimsy Farmer) turns up as the sole survivor of the wreck but quickly finds herself a blackmail pawn of scoundrel Forsythe (Venantino Venantini).  

The Disaster film was huge in the Seventies.  Irwin Allen made a cottage industry out of these films, some great (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno), some not so great (When Time Ran Out, The Swarm).  Starting in 1970 with Airport, there were no less than four films centered on people’s natural fear of flying.  And that’s the essence of them.  These are thrill rides designed for people to have some catharsis over their claustrophobia, aquaphobia, pteromerhanophobia, etcetera.  To that end, they typically showcase a microcosm of characters, running the gamut from working class heroes to snotty rich folks, none of whom can negotiate the obstacles required for survival by themselves.  No, they must band together, however reluctantly, and act as a group.  These films also require one character who is level-headed and resourceful enough to lead the others to safety (like, say, another character named Moses?).  The reason why the plane, ship, skyscraper, whatever fails is fairly inconsequential.  What’s important is that their failure plays on the audience’s inherent distrust of machines (how does something so heavy stay in the air?  How does something so heavy stay afloat?  You get the idea), and their eventual salvation reaffirms mankind’s superiority to machinekind (that is, until Skynet becomes self-aware in 1997) and their mastery of their domain.  When this sort of film is done right.

It’s unfortunate, then, that Deodato’s film seems to miss the point almost entirely.  The first two thirds of the film are focused on Moses finding the downed aircraft and convincing the authorities that there’s something going on.  The last third is focused on his rescuing Jean and then getting her to talk with a flight controller at a London airport as the second Concorde flight starts experiencing the same catastrophic problems.  We get the filmmakers’ idea of the microcosm aboard the second flight.  We have the priest, the cripple, the proud athlete, the cutesy kid with her dolly, the fat guy with heart problems, and so forth.  Yet, none of them is developed beyond these broad descriptions.  None of them actively participates in the action of the film.  None of them means anything to us the way characters like Steve McQueen’s Chief O’Hallorhan or Gene Hackman’s Reverend Scott do.  Further, there are no complications for any character to actively have to deal with midflight.  It’s pretty bad when the main tension of a film is essentially resolved via a phonecall.  It appears as if Deodato and company wanted to make a straight up action film but were saddled with the Disaster elements, so they just threw together whatever they could in about five minutes worth of scriptwriting and filmed it.  Of course, the producers also wanted to get a piece of all that JAWS money which was floating around in the late Seventies, so they inserted a shark inside the plane wreckage.  And did you notice Franciscus’s character’s last name?  No coincidences here. 

That said, the action scenes are capably handled (as you would expect, because Deodato is a capable director).  Further, the underwater scenes are very well-shot and edited, whole minutes of the film going by without dialogue and generating some decent thrills.  The idea of diving to come to the truth is interesting, and that’s part of the point to which the film is heading.  Nevertheless, the film is such a hodgepodge, it never focuses on what it needs to focus on long enough to allow any of it to reach a satisfying conclusion, and what it does focus on simply doesn’t quite fit into the whole in a nice case of Square-peg-round-hole-itis.  This film is nothing short of schizophrenic.  And even this wouldn’t be so terrible an offense if the filmmakers seemed to give a shit about any of it, but I never felt as if they did.  I’ll give you an example.  A character has to amputate a hand to escape certain death.  Maybe a minute later, this same character is shot dead.  So, why the drama with the amputation?  Because at that moment in the film, they needed to generate some suspense.  Afterward, it didn’t matter, because the character had fulfilled every need the script had for him, and it’s heavily debatable that he was even necessary for that.  I suppose there are worse ways to idle away time, but The Concorde Affair feels at what heart it has like nothing more than a solid reason to take a nap.

MVT:  The film uses some miniature effects work that would likely make Ed Wood shake his head.  They are dizzyingly bad.  I was astounded they actually allowed the footage to be used, but in retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been, considering the film’s origins.  By that same token, eating it all up was delicious.  Connoisseurs of this sort of thing know what I’m talking about.                 

Make Or Break:  The expositional scenes between Cotton and Purdom illustrate fully how little there actually is going on in the film.  All of the plot’s twists are revealed in these boardroom scenes, and once they are, it becomes clear to the audience that, yes, that’s pretty much all you’re going to get out of this movie.  So, love it or lump it.

Score:  6/10

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Episode #279: Enemy Space Cobra

Welcome to another episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week the Gents cover two picks from our toy drive for the kids this past Christmas!!! We cover Enemy Territory (1987) directed by Peter Manoogian selected by Kevin M. and Space Adventure Cobra (1982) directed by Osamu Dezaki and selected by Eric!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_279.mp3

Please head over to and donate to get Arizal's Final Score released on DVD with the help of you and the GGtMC!!!

Emails to


Thursday, March 13, 2014

OMG Entertainment/GGTMC Indiegogo Campaign to get THE FINAL SCORE on DVD!

OMG Entertainment (a small Dutch webstore specialised in horror and cult film) and the GGTMC podcast ( teamed up with the idea to release a lost film.

With the help of an Indygogo campaign we are trying to release the 1980's Indonesian action film Final Score. Directed by Arizal (The Stabalizer, American Hunter) and starring Christopher Mitchum this movie has never seen a DVD release before. Because of the participation of many movie fans that are working on this project just for the love of these kind of films, we managed to cut the costs of producing a DVD enormously. But still, we need enough movie lovers to pre-order their copy through the indygogo site to get this project fully funded. And we are hoping you can help us out by placing this news on your site. We would be very grateful! If we are successful this could be a start of many more release of forgotten films.

But first a little more on the film: Final Score (1986)

Inline afbeelding 2
Many films get lost in the annals of time. Released during the VHS boom, only to be forgotten about over the years. Many of these films have been covered on the Gentlemen's Guide to Midnite Cinema, but still reside in obscurity. You have the chance to help in unearthing one of these GGTMC jewels. This jewel is "Final Score".

The film takes the revenge fable and cranks it up to eleven! The legendary Chris Mitchum ("Rio Lobo", "Big Jake", "American Commandos", "The Day Time Ended") headlines as Richard Brown, a loving father who's settled in Indonesia because it's a safe place to live. He finds out the hard way this isn't exactly true, as a motley crew of thugs, led by Hawk (Mike Abbott), murder his children and rape his wife. Richard vows revenge, tracking down his rivals and utilizing his army skills to dispatch them.
If you think this sounds generic, I promise you the action delivers! Action sequences occurs at least every five minutes, with a bevy of brawls. Hand-to-hand combat, shoot-outs and explosions galore! There's even a nifty use of a motorcycle and grenade that needs to be seen to be believed. You don't want to miss out on this action!
Want to know how to attain a copy of this gem? All you have to do is donate money to this campaign, which goes directly into producing a DVD release of "Final Score". Each donation comes with a perk, as a way of saying thank you. 

By backing this project you are simply pre-ordering your copy of this DVD.

We have a standard DVD but there are also two limited collectors editions available in a small (limited to 60) and a big hartbox (limited to 100) package (image below)!

Inline afbeelding 1 

At the moment of writing we are already halfway funded but we still need more action fans and DVD collectors to get in on this! 

More info and a campaign movie trailer are available on the Indygogo campaign site:

Episode #278: Three Colors Blue

Welcome to a special episode of the GGtMC!!!

This week we are doing a Pod Crawl with good friends The GobbledyGeek Podcast ( and The Debatable Podcast ( and each show is covering one film in Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy!!!

The Gents selected to kick things off with coverage of Blue (1993) starring Juliette Binoche.

Please take the time to go over to and help us get Arizal's Final Score starring Chris Mitchum out on DVD through the community of the GGtMC!!!! Every little bit helps gang!!!

Direct download: ggtmc_278.mp3

Emails to


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Secret Of The Telegian (1960)

Haunted house attractions are taken way more seriously now than when I was a kid.  There are houses open all year round (there were even back in the day, but they were much rarer), and some have a level of effects work that could rival anything the film industry ever put out.  There are groups who spend the entire year just getting things ready for the Halloween season, so they can scare the pants off people for a nominal fee (and the love of it, I have no doubt).  Locally, we had the annual Jaycees’ (aka the local chapter of the United States Junior Chamber, if my memory is correct, but you never know) haunted house.  They would take over an empty building or a gymnasium and set up a little “maze” for scared shitless kids to navigate.  And all it took was a little grease paint, some rubber masks, and some offbeat lighting schemes.  Honestly, I didn’t go very many times to the Jaycees’ events, but when I did, it was always a good time.  I’m not trying to equate the two, nor am I making a judgment that one is better than the other.  I guess I’m just impressed that you can scare somebody with a pair of plastic fangs that cost fifty cents as readily as you can with an elaborate animatronic creature that cost a few hundred or even thousands of dollars.  And I’m glad there are folks out there doing it to this day on either end of that spectrum.

At the local Cave of Horrors, a man named Sukimoto (Shin Otomo) is stabbed to death in front of a crowd of spectators, yet none of them can properly identify the perpetrator.  The only clue is a military identification tag, but even that seems to lead nowhere.  Enter ace reporter and all-around snoop Kirioka (Koji Tsuruta) who just knows there’s more going on here.  Teaming up with Detective Kobayashi (Akihiko Hirata), Kirioka’s investigation leads back to a small group of ex-soldiers, a couple of men believed dead, and The Secret Of The Telegian (which I don’t remember ever being referred to as such in the film proper) tying them all together.

Jun Fukuda’s film is one in a long list of pieces which combines elements of Crime with Science Fiction and/or Horror.  Movies like 4D Man, The Amazing Transparent Man, and even Toho’s own The Human Vapor and The H-Man all take the idea of a criminal or a victim of criminals who is given a power and then uses that power to take revenge and/or advance their criminal career.  All five of the films mentioned above were produced within about a three year range from 1958 to 1960, and this suggests why these mash-ups were attempted in the first place.  By the end of the Fifties, both the Film Noir as well as the Atomic Horror movements were coming to a close.  It only makes sense to meld the two together, though the results are often mixed.  Such is the case here.  You have a plot essentially straight out of a Richard Stark novel, you have some fantastical elements that lend themselves to interesting visuals, and you have a mystery aspect that should maintain interest throughout.  But the film somehow comes off as simply flat.  The Crime bits feel like they were hatched at a table in the back corner of the local VFW.  The whodunit angle is answered almost as soon as it is brought up, and the more intriguing facets of that aren’t explained at all by film’s end.  The characters are all cardboard in the worst possible way, none of them distinguishable as anything other than the purpose they serve in the plot.  The film doesn’t swing for the fences.  It barely ekes out singles.  It’s all the more frustrating because this should all work, and The Secret Of The Telegian should be a classic in Toho’s stable.  Sadly, it just isn’t.

An author (I want to say it was Harlan Ellison, but I don’t recall exactly) once  said that one of the defining traits of a Science Fiction story is that the thing which makes it Science Fiction is essential to the story being told.  For example, without the teleportation angle, neither The Fly, nor any of its remakes and/or sequels, works.  By contrast, without the teleportation angle, this film could still be sustained as a straight up revenge tale.  Having said that, the Science Fiction features of this film are compelling by themselves.  The idea of a three-dimensional transmission committing crimes is, I think, brilliant.  Television had come to prominence, like the other genre-related bits in this film, in the Fifties, and it was always predicted that it would be the death of film.  Herein, then, television is a killer, literally, and on film no less.  Since television had become a new member of most homes, had made so many people instantly famous, the Telegian also speaks to the desire of people to want to live their lives on television, to gain fame and form their personalities by how they are perceived through the cathode ray tubes, truly putting paid to Marshall McLuhan’s statement about the indivisibility of the message with its medium (which, of course, would be coined four years in the future).

It is in this way that Sudo (Tadao Nakamura) is dehumanized in his pursuit of revenge.  Like Gaston Leroux’s Phantom, Sudo is a wronged man, and we sympathize with why he does what he does.  Naturally, this transformation from honest soldier into inhuman monster comes with a certain amount of physical disfigurement, and this is further indication that he has been removed from the human race.  We do derive some degree of catharsis from watching this tragic creature pick off his tormentors, but we also draw the line when innocent people are put in his line of fire as well.  Even justifiable vengeance has to be tempered by societal justice.  Sudo’s indiscriminate violence puts him at odds with modern civilization, so he must be punished.  And like so many of the best of the Kaiju films Toho churned out around this time and after, even Nature itself recognizes that someone like Sudo simply cannot be allowed to exist.  Because the secret of the Telegian must ultimately remain just that.  A secret.

MVT:  The basic idea is solid.  But like a bland casserole, it has the ingredients, it just doesn’t quite know how to use them and in what measurements.

Make Or Break:  The opening scene does a very nice job of creating a hook for the story.  It’s enigmatic and entertaining, and it’s visually engaging.  That the film flatlines quickly thereafter is a disappointment.

Score:  6/10