December 25th, 2006


Review - Bride of the Gorilla

I thought this was going to be a really bad B-minus movie rip-off of King Kong. But I was wrong.  Bride of the Gorilla is a classic with an all-star cast, amazing special effects and more plot twists than a challah.

Blonde hottie Barbara Payton stars as Dina, the trophy wife of Amazon jungle plantation owner Klaas Van Gelder (Paul Cavanagh). She has the hots for plantation manager Barney Chavez, played by the ubiquitous Raymond Burr (or perhaps an anamatronic replica). Klaas has just fired barney, and Dina begs him not to leave.

Barney declares his lust for Dina, vowing to take her away from all this, which he does in front of the maid Larena (seductively played by Carol Varga, whom you may remember as Violet in Live Fast, Die Young, or as Rani, the serving girl in The Black Panther and Untamed Mistress. Or not.) Barney had vowed to take Larena away from all this, just yesterday.

Larena cries on the shoulder of the obligatory house hag/witch/spy Al-Long (played by Gisela Werbisek, or perhaps her reanimated corpse). Al-Long vows that Barney "will never hurt anyone again".

Meanwhile, Klaas has gone to the garden to commune with nature, and Barney joins him ostensibly to talk  Klaas out of firing him. We see Al-Long behind the bushes, spying on them. Barney sees a poisonous snake heading their way, and take the opportunity to sucker-punch Klaas, who falls right in the path of the snake.

Enter the local constable, Taro, played, amazing but true, by the legendary Lon Chaney, Jr. And the doctor/coroner Viet (Tom Conway). Both the cop and the doc are sure Barney killed Klaas, but the evidence and Al-Long's eye witness account say the poor man died of a snake bite.

So Barney not only goes free, he marries Dina and becomes master of the plantation.

Until he drinks the cursed potion from a hallucinogenic plant which Al-Long slips into his evening nightcap. The curse makes him see himself as an animal which hunts in the jungle. It takes effect at sundown and lasts till dawn. To everyone else, he still looks like Barney, but to himself he looks like a man in a very shoddy gorilla suit. Burr apparently did not do his own stunts, the gorilla is credited as being played by one Steve Calvert. Steve apparently made a small living playing gorillas, after his debut in the moth-eaten suit in this flick, he went on to play a gorilla in four more films, most memorably Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla.

So every evening Barney has his drink, and rushes into the jungle, leaving his gorgeous wife behind. The doctor recognizes the symptoms of poisoning, and warns Dina, but she thinks the doctor wants her for himself (probably because he tells her he does) and she ignores him.

Meanwhile the jungle monster has scared off all the plantation workers and all the help except Al-Long, and Dina decides to take a rifle and follow Barney into the jungle to see what he's up to. Since this is a family film, she does not suspect animal "husbandry" on his part. The doctor and the policeman follow her, just in time to see something drag her into the bushes. They both fire blindly into the bushes a few dozen times, and when the smoke clears, both Dina and Barney are dead. Big surprise.

The policeman discovers the poison plant in Al-Long's room, and they arrest her.



Ring of the Bored

The highlight of my day was taking out the garbage. It was my only foray out of the apartment.

I watched a the 49ers snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet again, and also saw the University of Hawaii trounce ASU in a pretty good bowl game. Called the folks, talked to Marilyn who is making good use of the boxes I gave her. She's pretty much done packing what she can, the movers will do the rest on Wednesday and she will be in her new place up near Sacto on Thursday.

I spent a lot of time online, finished the last page of my England trip web travelogue (only 4 months late), ordered some CDs, listened to some Thai music while going on some Thai chat rooms.

Back to the TV, I watched the last 15 minutes of the original 1957 live TV broadcast of Cinderella starring Julie Andrews (it was nowhere near as good as the Brandy version of 9 or 10 years ago, IMHO). Back online because I thought Richard Rodgers' wife had written that, but no, it was Rodgers & Hammerstein. Mary Rodgers, his daughter, wrote Once Upon A Mattress, hence the confusion.

Plans for tomorrow:

Pack a lunch and drive to Parkfield. I don't expect anything to be open, but that's okay, I'm just going so I can say I've been to the most continuously seismically active spot on the San Andreas fault.  And I'll take some pictures along the way, too. Depending on my mood, what time I leave and the weather, I may continue on to Coalinga, or SLO.
  • Current Music
    I Don't Want to Make Your Heart Feel Inconvenient - Budokan (Thai)


Football is a game. Men are paid large amounts of money to entertain us by playing this game. And in this age where it is routine for a single player to be traded several times in his career, you would think there would be more on-field acknowledgment of a job well done by opponents. Working in Silicon Valley, I can no longer count the number of times when someone I used to work with has become a competitor, and vice versa - but you still remain friends, or at least pretend to.

I didn't play football in school, but I was in the judo program for a while, and our judo coach was also the football coach. He used to tell football players they should be the first to offer a hand up to someone they have tackled. "It's good sportsmanship," he would say, "and it embarrasses the hell out of them." Much better than talking smack.

I bring this up because in the Hawaii Bowl yesterday there were two examples of great sportsmanship. I'll note the second one first. After the game, Hawaii QB Colt Brennan was being interviewed by the ESPN sidelines reporter. Hawaii had trounced ASU by a score of 41-24, Brennan had broken the NCAA single-game touchdown pass record. Several times during the interview, ASU players came up to Brennan and congratulated him, and each time he thanked the player, using the player's first name. I was pleasantly surprised an opponent would not only make a special trip to do that, but also ignore the cameras. And I was charmed by Brennan's friendly and personalized thank-yous.

The first piece of good sportsmanship was a glaring example of officials being Stupid, and "no good deed goes unpunished". Davone Bess had just caught a touchdown pass, and walked to the stands behind the end zone and shook hands with several kids - we're talking grade school and middle school aged. He did it with grace, charm and good will, and one of the cretins in stripes not only threw a flag for "unsportsmanlike conduct", he also ejected Bess from the game, as this was his second "infraction". Something is clearly wrong with the NCAA rules if they don't allow a player to be a good role model.