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Black Dragons

USA 1942
produced by
Sam Katzman, Jack Dietz for Monogram (Banner Productions)
directed by William Nigh
starring Bela Lugosi, Joan Barclay, George Pembroke, Clayton Moore, Robert Frazer, Edward Peil sr, Robert Fiske, Irving Mitchell, Kenneth Harlan, Max Hoffman jr, Frank Melton, Joseph Eggenton, I.Stanford Jolley
screenplay by Harvey Gates

American World War II Propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbour & the Americans have entered World War II, but the war is also fought at the home front, where Fifth Columnists sabotage the arms industry ... but the worst yet is that a group of Fifth Columnists have infiltrated the industry itself, &, sitting in key positions, they seriously undermine America's war efforts.

These rogue businessmen - Courney (Max Hoffman jr), Wallace (Robert Fiske), Van Dyke (Irving Mitchell), Ryder (Edward Peil sr) & Hanlin (Robert Frazer) - regularly meet at co-conspirator Doc Saunders' (George Pembroke) place for dinnerparties ... but at one such dinnerparty, a mysterious stranger, Colomb (Bela Lugosi) shows up, hypnotizes Doc Saunders into submission & has him send the others away ...

Heading home, Courney suddenly finds Colomb sharing his taxi, & Colomb soon enough kills him & drapes his dead body on the stairs of the (closed for the time of the war) Japanese embassy ...

The police are baffled, & the only lead they have is Doc Saunders dinnerparty, but when detective Dick Martin (Clayton Moore) comes to investigate, he finds Doc Saunders locked away in his room, Colomb having pretty much taken over control of the household & the only friendly face it seems is that of Saunders' niece Alice (Joan Barclay), who seems to know nothing though as she herself did arrive only a few hours ago.

Soon other attendees of the dinner party - Wallace, Van Dyke & Ryder - die too, so the police has one of these typical B-movie plans to catch the murderer ... they persuade Hanlin to act as bait for the killer, to lure him out into the open - & the plan works beautifully, with the one minor fault that Colomb can be shot down only after he has killed Hanlin. With Colomb dead, the hypnotic grip over Saunders breaks, & Saunders confesses everything ... He & his (now dead) comrades are actually Japanese spies from the order of the Black Dragon whom Colomb has performed plastic surgery on so they could substitute American key businessmen the order has captured & killed to sabotage American war efforts.

The plan worked beautifully, but then the order tried to kill Colomb ... but he got away, & now he has come after them to take revenge ... & quite successfully too, as 5 of the 6 Black Dragons are dead, & Saunders he has given plastic surgery so now he has the face of a monster ...

 

After the bombing of Pearl Harbour, producer Sam Katzman was hell-bent on making the first movie to exploit the evils of the Japanese & Fifth Columnists alike ... & he succeeded, succeeded in being the first, at least. The movie however is a rather poor affair, an uneven mix of old dark house mobtives, war propaganda, whodunnit mainstays, & a touch of horror thrown in, just for good measure. This directionless blend naturally doesn't help delivering a straight story, nor does poor storytelling.

Bela Lugosi's performance however is spotless (as usual), noone else could/can say pointless phrases like "I might be detained for quite a while" with the same kind of menace.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD