Monday, August 8, 2011

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #29!

And we are back to blissful, blissful randomness...

The Night Walker  (Universal International, 1964)

This one kind of creeped me out a bit as a kid - when Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? started the "older actress horror film" craze in the 60's William Castle contributed two entries - this one and Strait Jacket starring Joan Crawford. Both are over the top melodramas but both also have eerie moments.

Land of Doom  (Manson International, 1986)

I haven't seen this Mad Max/Road Warrior ripoff...yet...

Game of Death  (Columbia Pictures, 1979)

Oh boy! Shades of Ed Wood! Six years after the death of Bruce Lee, his unfinished final film The Game of Death was finished...sort of. Taking a whopping 11 minutes and 7 seconds of the 100 or so minutes shot Game of Death (chopping off the "The") features a couple of doubles acting out new scenes, interspersed with Lee's fighting scene footage. This jawdropper was finally released in America in 1979. The original film was to have a very simple story of Bruce Lee's character being recruited to battle his way through a pagoda with increasingly more difficult martial arts opponents on each level of the 5 story building, trying to reach a unidentified final goal on the top floor. (This does of course mean that Bruce Lee managed to invent the 1980's video game before his untimely death). The only non-Hong Kong actor in the original was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a student of Lee's playing the 5th level opponent.

When Game of Death was finished, it was a hodgepodge about a martial arts actor named Billy Lo (Lee and several "doubles") who is nearly assassinated on set by a mob headed by Dean Jagger and Hugh O'Brian. Eventually Billy fakes his death, allowing for disguises like sunglasses and beards to try in vain to make you think you're still watching Bruce Lee instead of guys who rival Ed Wood's wife's chiropractor's resemblance to Bela Lugosi in their ability to stand in for Lee. Somehow they got a couple of Academy Award winning Best Supporting Actors (Jagger and Gig Young) to be in it, and John Barry did the musical score! Despite this, Jabbar refused to come back for the reshoots so he is also doubled, and nearly as poorly.

The film reaches its nadir when they have an actor sitting before a mirror and superimpose a still picture of Bruce Lee over his face for a moment. Here's what it looks like, though you have to imagine the absolute stillness of the picture and the actor's twitches and little movements that further give this shoddy excuse for an effect away:

Wow. I'm ashamed for them.

I've gone on long enough about this one - after all, I'll be properly reviewing it at some point, I'm sure!

So there you go! Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. I love Bruce Lee! He was brilliant and so far ahead of his time.

    Dig that Mad Max ripoff. The mask reminds me of those old wrestling masks from the WCCW.

  2. Melissa! I was in the Blog back room still tinkering with this one and didn't hear you come in to comment! I added a lot more words (A LOT MORE) to Game of Death, so, I hope you get to come back and help me celebrate the cashing in on a dead superstar that movie became in its final form!
    And yes, that is some old school wrestling looking costuming and masking in Land of Doom! I'll let you know how it is if I manage to see it!

  3. Yowza! So funny Bruce Lee mirror effect! Totally digging the posters today (Stanwyk ROCKS!) and how did you know that Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? is one of my absolute faves?! Thanks for the shout out.

  4. I guess I was a little too early to the party.:)

    Oh my God this Game of Death is heresy! How dare they rip off the Dragon. That mirror shot is just horrible and in very poor taste. I hope Lee's family sued them.

    Now I'm sad and have to dig out my copy of Enter the Dragon. I also have to rewatch The Crow, because I loved Brandon, too.