11 August, 2008

How bad is THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU?

A special screening of Jess Franco's THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU...

Let our friends at MST 3000 tell you! I haven't seen this episode but it looks like a scream, even if you are a rabid Jess Franco fan. Probably no film by Uncle Jess has a worse reputation, at least among Fu Manchu connoisseurs.

323 - The Castle of Fu Manchu

Air Date January 18, 1992

I'm also interested in the version entitled ASSIGNMENT ISTANBUL. I think I may have actually seen this via a b&w television broadcast (or I was watching it on an old black and white TV?) around 1972. I didn't make it all the way through, considering it an outrage compared to the Don Sharp directed Fu Manchu titles I had enjoyed theatrically in the mid 1960s. And it didn't encourage me to further investigate the career of Jess Franco, to put it mildly. Has anyone seen this version or have it on tape? If you do have it please contact me. I'm also looking for a copy of the Spanish version, which reportedly has an alternate opening credits sequence.

I was also curious about the IMDB Trivia notes for the film which state that the footage of the dam-bursting is from a 1950's Dirk Bogarde film. Does anyone know if this is correct?* With the IMDB you never know. And there's a lot more stock footage in TCOFM still to be investigated. It's not all scenes from A NIGHT TO REMEMBER in the ship sinking sequence either. Check it out. Any futher information on the sources of the miles of stock footage utilized by Towers/Franco would be much appreciated.

And does anyone actually like THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU? It's all right, this a safe place to confess....


*From the IMDB: The dam bursting scene is footage taken from the Dirk Bogarde film Campbell's Kingdom (1957). Bogarde is in the green checked shirt and Stanley Baker in the red shirt, both are recognizable in this footage.




13 comments:

Douglas A. Waltz said...

Being a huge FuManchu fan I must say that I actually love this pulpy flick! The other one that Franco id, Blood of Fu Manchu I believe? Was also a fun time. Good stuff. I was not aware that the MSTies had lambasted it, however. I will have to get the episode from my MSTie buddy.
Thanks for the info

Tom Mather said...

I confess! Castle of Fu Manchu is one of my all time favourite Franco films. That's not to say it's one of the best, but I love its pulpy poetry.

What has it got? A great Istanbul setting, Tsai Chin head to toe in white robes, Rosalba Neri's three piece suit and machine gun. Also the extravagant conceit of mixing Istanbul and Barcelona into one amazing city, part 1920s part 1960s. The bubbling liquids in Fu's lab. That wonderful kiss after the heart transplant.

Really only fragments, but who cares.

I always hated the Titanic sinking footage at the start because it seemed so out of place, but watch it in slow motion - no sound - and the deep blue splashes and bursting flare add to the magic and don't spoil the mood.

I only need to hear the music over the opening credits and I'm gone.

Robert Monell said...

Being a huge FuManchu fan I must say that I actually love this pulpy flick! The other one that Franco id, Blood of Fu Manchu I believe? Was also a fun time. Good stuff.
Doug, I also like them for the pulp value. There's an interesting, alternate version of BLOOD called KISS OF DEATH, I believe, which is better edited.

Robert Monell said...

onfess! Castle of Fu Manchu is one of my all time favourite Franco films. That's not to say it's one of the best, but I love its pulpy poetry.

What has it got? A great Istanbul setting, Tsai Chin head to toe in white robes, Rosalba Neri's three piece suit and machine gun. Also the extravagant conceit of mixing Istanbul and Barcelona into one amazing city, part 1920s part 1960s. The bubbling liquids in Fu's lab. That wonderful kiss after the heart transplant.
Tom:
I like your term "pulpy poetry", and that's a great point about the part 1920's-part 1960s synthesis Franco creates (perhaps inadvertantly) with the anarachronims. I've always considered the film filled somewhat endearing goofs but your post gives me a new way to look at it.

mido505 said...

Robert:

I hope you are doing well. My imdb review of Castle can be accessed here: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0064338/usercomments

I am proud that my positive review of the film has garnered a 23 out of 27 useful rating. Hopefully it will help generate a few more Jess Franco fans! And thanks to Blue Underground for finally putting out an acceptable version! Keep up the good work.

Brian D. Horrorwitz said...

It's no "Kiss and Kill" (which I prefer a bit more over "Castle..." being the, um, perv that I am) but I still think it's a fun movie. I don't mind the re-used footage either. I think it works!

Lars J said...

I haven't seen this one yet but I must confess imdb reviews like "pure hackjob with the sloppiest use of stock footage ever" makes it water in my mouth. Maybe it's time to watch the Blue Underground DVD i've had lying for a while...

Douglas A. Waltz said...

Yeah, you need to watch it. And as for 90 percent of imdb reviews. They are crap written by morons. Ignore thme. Well, unless they say something good about Unca Jess, then it would be fine.

Douglas A. Waltz said...

Yeah, you need to watch it. And as for 90 percent of imdb reviews. They are crap written by morons. Ignore thme. Well, unless they say something good about Unca Jess, then it would be fine.

Robert Monell said...

thanks to Blue Underground for finally putting out an acceptable version!

Good to see you here, Mido. Yes, the DVD really bumps up one's appreciation of the color and the stylized color lighting design. Thanks for the link to your perceptive review.

Robert Monell said...

Thanks for the feedback, Brian. Do you have the version titled KISS AND KILL of BLOOD OF FU MANCHU? It used to be at every video store you went into.

Lars and Doug: I know the feeling about the negative reviews. Sometimes they have the opposite of the intent.

Brian D. Horrorwitz said...

At one time I had a couple copies of "Kiss and Kill", one was on some weird label I cannot recall (I think it was from Canada maybe?)but I seem to remember that there was a spicey dance scene that was a bit more explicit then other tapes I had seen. I also have it as "Against All Odds" on NTA video. But after the DVD came out I got rid of those.

Robert Monell said...

Hold onto some of those old tapes, Brian. KISS & KILL is one of the unique edits of the film with a different scene arrangement than the one on DVD, and my preferred version.