Tag Archives: Balladeer’s Blog

IDAHO TRANSFER (1973): MOVIE REVIEW

IDAHO TRANSFER (1973) – This film, directed by Peter Fonda and starring mostly unknowns, deals with time travel and post-apocalypse themes. It was retitled Deranged for its DVD release. I have no idea why.

Not so long ago Idaho Transfer was regarded among us fans of bad movies as a So-Bad-It’s Good example of the way so many 1970s sci-fi films were presented as if they were being deep and innovative when in truth they were just reworking ideas from old Twilight Zone and Outer Limits episodes but dragging them out to unbearable length.

Here in 2021 Idaho Transfer has fallen so far off the schlock charts that it’s unknown to many viewers. However, it is STILL one of the best So-Bad-It’s-Good examples of pretentious yet shallow 1970s sci-fi films. While this story might have made a decent episode of a half-hour anthology series it is excruciatingly stretched out to 86 minutes.

THE PREMISE: In the movie’s present-day (1973) a group of scientists in Idaho have been using their federal grant money to try developing a teleportation/ matter transfer device for the government. Along the way, however, they realized that they had accidentally invented a machine that transports people and objects through time instead of space.  Continue reading

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GODS AND GODDESSES OF FIJI

Fiji IslandsIn the past Balladeer’s Blog has examined the gods and myths of Polynesian people in Hawaii, Samoa, Bellona and Rennell. This time around I’m taking a look at the neglected gods of the Melanesian people of Fiji.

NOTE: I am spelling the names of the deities phonetically to make it easier for readers to know how to pronounce them. I’m doing this to avoid the awkwardness of having to remember the odd rules regarding how to pronounce certain consonants.

For instance “Q” is pronounced “ng-g” so with the name of the shark god, spelled Dakuwanqa in that system, I will spell it Ndakuwang-ga so readers don’t have to remember how Q is supposed to be pronounced or that “D” is pronounced “nd”. After all, the Fijians certainly were not using our alphabet prior to contact with Europeans, so I think it’s inefficient to expect readers to remember odd pronunciation rules for letters that the Fijians never used to begin with.

KONOSAU – The god of stillborn infants. Originally born dead to the first Bau woman taken to Rewa, this entity became the patron deity of such offspring. His main temple is called Nai Bili. 

NAITONU – The god of nudity. I’m not joking. Naitonu hates the custom of wearing clothing and not only is he constantly naked but he expects nudity from everyone entering his territory – even if they are just passing through. Failure to comply will result in the offender being struck with leprosy. 

Fiji 2ALEWANISOSO – The patron goddess of travelers and hospitality. Regardless of their tribe, fellow Fijians who reach one of Alewanisoso’s temples can be assured of not being harmed during their stay – usually an overnight one. 

Hostility or rudeness of any kind is taboo in her temples and everyone entering is expected to conduct themselves as gently and courteously as they would when wooing a mate.

masc graveyard smallerROKOMAUTU – A son of the supreme deity Ndengei by his sister. This deity was born from his mother’s elbow as another example of birthing oddities in world mythology. Rokomautu was so headstrong he tried to force even his own parents to worship him. 

Rokomautu falls into the mythological category that Balladeer’s Blog’s readers will remember as a Divine Geographer. When Ndengei first created the world the land was featureless, so he sent his son Rokomautu to provide character. The god sculpted the Earth’s various geographic features.

The sandy beaches of Fiji were created by Rokomautu dragging his flowing robe over the terrain. When the god pulled up his robe while walking the land became rocky or filled with mangrove bushes. By some accounts anywhere that he spat a lake or river would form.  Continue reading

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AN AZTEC MUMMY IN CALIFORNIA: THE SQUAW HOLLOW SENSATION (1879)

With Squaw Valley becoming Palisades Tahoe now I figured what better time to revisit this neglected 1879 horror story which deserves to be as remembered as Sleepy Hollow, House of the Seven Gables and others. 

Aztec Mummy

THE SQUAW HOLLOW SENSATION (1879) – The Squaw Hollow Sensation was originally published in serialized form in the California newspaper The Mountain Democrat from May 31st to July 26th, 1879. The story was set in Squaw Hollow, California, near Placerville in present-day El Dorado County. In fact the El Dorado County Historical Museum was where I obtained my copy of the story for this review.

Our main character is Berlin’s Doctor Loerder Von Herbst, a man trying to prove that ancient Egyptians migrated across the Atlantic Ocean and that the Aztecs were really a colony of Egypt. His studies have led him throughout the American West, northern Mexico and part of California, wherever he believes the legendary region of ancient Aztlan to have been. Von Herbst theorizes  that the preserved figures called Aztec Mummies are not corpses but rather living beings who were put into a centuries-long sleep and can be revived.

Squaw Hollow SensationThe good doctor has created a special chemical solution that in experiments has restored body parts from dissected corpses to a condition resembling living tissue. He believes he can use this chemical solution as part of a procedure to bring an Aztec Mummy back to life. Ancient papyri refer to “Heaven’s fire” and Dr Von Herbst is convinced that means lightning and so he plans to use electricity generated from a Daniell’s Battery to aid in the resuscitation process.

With the aid of various assistants the doctor investigates an Aztec tomb uncovered by mining operations. Inside that subterranean tomb are 50 mummified Aztec bodies that are over a thousand years old. With this bonanza on his hands Doctor Von Herbst sets up a laboratory in the massive burial structure and sets to work, carefully keeping a secret of the bodies he and his assistants have discovered. He begins by soaking the mummies in large vats full of his restorative chemical solution which replenishes the bodily fluids of the dehydrated bodies. Continue reading

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DOCTOR HACKENSAW’S SECRETS (1921-1925): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

doctor hackensawDOCTOR HACKENSAW’S SECRETS – Written by Clement Fezandie. Doctor Hackensaw and his adventures were similar to Paul B’Old’s short stories about Professor Jerome Mudgewood, but with less emphasis on humor. Both figures dealt with the often destructive consequences of their own inventions or discoveries. Ferzandie’s Hackensaw tales were published in the magazine Science and Invention.

Dr Hackensaw’s supporting cast included reporter and ladies’ man Silas Rockett, enthusiastic and perky teen girl Pep Perkins and precocious boy Tintangeles Smith.

THE SECRET OF ARTIFICIAL REPRODUCTION (May 1921) – The first Dr Hackensaw story. Mostly speculative as the good doctor puts forth plans for what we would today call genetic engineering and cloning. Hackensaw depicts mass-produced soldiers of incredible physical prowess and mass-produced livestock to end world hunger. He pushes the envelope with a cat-dog hybrid animal and with human fetuses being grown in the uteruses of cows.

THE SECRET OF THE ATOM (July 1921) – Hackensaw experiments with the study of subatomic particles and with what we today call particle physics. A fairly dull effort compared to the other Dr H tales.

THE SECRET OF SUSPENDED ANIMATION (October 1921) – Dr Hackensaw pioneers chryosleep concepts by using carbon dioxide-heavy treatments. Not only can he preserve living things but he tries to do the reverse by reviving a pterodactyl frozen for millions of years. The pterodactyl eventually escapes and goes on a rampage. Continue reading

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL RESULTS FROM SEPTEMBER 11th

HEADLINES

Bluefield_WVBLUEFIELD CONQUERS DIVISION TWO – The NAIA’s BLUEFIELD COLLEGE RAMBLING RAMS took it on the road against the NCAA Division Two team the EMORY & HENRY COLLEGE WASPS. For newbies this is like when 1AA teams take on 1A teams. Trailing 38-17 in the 4th Quarter the Rambling Rams came back to win 46-45!

Oshkosh TitansGIANT-KILLERS – This week 3 NCAA Division 3 teams imitated the NAIA’s usual schtick of defeating teams from higher divisions. The UW-OSHKOSH TITANS won 28-10 at D2’s NORTHERN MICHIGAN WILDCATS   ###   Meanwhile the LINFIELD COLLEGE WILDCATS hammered D2’s SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY CLAN 56-20   ###   And the WHITWORTH UNIVERSITY PIRATES edged D2’s LINCOLN (CA) UNIVERSITY OAKLANDERS 31-29.

bluefield state football helmetHISTORY WAS MADE – The BLUEFIELD STATE BIG BLUE managed the FIRST victory for their revived intercollegiate football program! After losing last week the Big Blue visited the ELIZABETH CITY STATE VIKINGS. Bluefield State trailed 21-0 in the 1st Quarter but tied things up 21-21 by Halftime. The Vikings went up 27-21 in the 3rd but the Big Blue came back to win it 35-27. 

Susquehanna University River Hawks helmetMARATHON GAME OF THE WEEK – This particular designation goes to the clash between the SUSQUEHANNA UNIVERSITY RIVER HAWKS and their hosts the FRANKLIN & MARSHALL COLLEGE DIPLOMATS. It took FIVE OVERTIMES before the River Hawks emerged with a 30-28 victory. Continue reading

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SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS PART THREE

Here’s Part Three of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.

spidey 123SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #123 (August 1973)

Title: Just A Man Called Cage

Villain: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire

NOTE: Luke Cage was still going by Hero for Hire at this time, not Power Man.

Synopsis: This issue opens up with the police plus J Jonah Jameson and his City Editor Joseph “Robbie” Robertson at the crime scene where Norman Osborn has been found murdered. Jameson is, of course, insisting that Osborn, an old friend and major advertiser at the Daily Bugle, must have been killed by Spider-Man. The webslinger had been searching for Osborn through Robertson’s contacts at the Bugle earlier in the evening.

spider man 123 splash pageRobbie and the police at the scene tell Jameson they aren’t so sure Spider-Man was the killer. There are fragments of the Green Goblin’s exploding pumpkin-bombs in the battle scarred area there on the New York City streets. PLUS, someone obviously moved Osborn’s body a bit before the cops arrived on the scene. At length Jonah refuses to listen any further and rides off angrily in his limo. 

From a nearby rooftop the mysterious man in the shadows from the end of last issue reflects that HE is the one who moved Osborn’s dead body when he was removing his Green Goblin costume and bat-shaped flier. He knew that if the world learned that Norman Osborn was really the supervillain the Green Goblin they wouldn’t care about his death.

The mystery man further reflects that millionaire industrialist Norman Osborn, with his secret identity preserved, is still looked on as a pillar of the community and therefore he will be widely mourned and the police will be pressured to bring in Spider-Man for questioning.

NOTE: It’s no spoiler this many decades later to mention that this shadowy figure turns out to be Harry Osborn, Norman’s son, who witnessed the final battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin and will become the new Goblin months down the road. 

Meanwhile J Jonah Jameson decides to hire the new superhero Luke Cage to do what the police can’t do and capture or kill Spider-Man.    Continue reading

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RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY (1991): CULT MOVIE CLASSIC

riki-ohRIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY (1991) – Back when I started Balladeer’s Blog in 2010 this Hong Kong martial arts/ splatter film was among the first movies I planned to review. Feeling intimidated by the need to describe the sheer scale of the joyously tasteless violence in this movie I kept postponing it. Eventually, it seemed so notorious that I figured too many people knew about it for me to bother.

This week I was floored to meet a fellow fan of bad movies and learn that they had never even heard of Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. That galvanized me to finally post a review of the movie.

WARNING: For people who shy away from ultra-violence and the like, I will point out that this film usually grosses out and disgusts viewers just as much as some other flicks I’ve reviewed, like Father’s Day, Mandy, Lewd Lizard, Headless, etc. If you hated those reviews, you’ll likely hate this one, too.

riki oh in prison yardRiki-Oh (pronounced Ricky-HO) is also known as Violence King and with good reason. This Category 3 Hong Kong movie does the seemingly impossible – it more than lives up to the Japanese Manga it was based on. Siu-Wong Fan stars as the title character. Ngai Choi Lam directed and wrote the screenplay adaptation.

Get ready for a kung fu film which combines the violent sensibilities of the Three Stooges crossed with the gore of Psycho Gothic Lolita, Dead Alive plus the aforementioned Mandy and Father’s Day.  Not to mention more shots of men standing at urinals than you’d see at a major league ball park.  Continue reading

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RED STAR (1908): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION

red starRED STAR (1908) – Written by Alexander Malinowski under the name Alexander Bogdanov. This pro-communist science fiction novel came three years after the failed uprising of 1905 and sixteen years BEFORE Aelita: Queen of Mars, a silent sci-fi film which depicted a similar communist paradise on Mars.

The main character of the novel Red Star is named Leonid, shortened to “Lenni” most of the time. Lenni is a scientist and a revolutionary who hopes for a communist revolution in Russia. When he authors a brilliant paper on atomic physics and anti-gravity, he catches the attention of a man who calls himself Menni.

Menni at first presents himself as a member and recruiter of a secret global society which possesses technology far more advanced than the rest of the world. Eventually it turns out that Menni and the other members of the secret society which Lenni joins are really Martians. They are identical to Earthlings except for their larger eyes, narrower jaws and slightly wider heads.

red star picThey reveal that Lenni’s brilliant paper described the concepts of nuclear fission and anti-gravity that the Martians use in their spaceships. Recognizing his superior mind they sought him out in order to take him on board their interplanetary vessel and transport him to Mars. Once there they will let him observe their culture like they secretly observed Earth culture during their stay.

The spaceship is shaped like a globe and has no true command structure, as one of the laughable examples of Bogdanov’s communist theories which are littered throughout the novel. The crew members simply carry out all their duties harmoniously with no need for leadership. All are equals and are experts in their fields. Continue reading

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NINETEEN GODS OF THE NYANGA PEOPLE

Nyanga territoryAfter Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of the Mwindo Epic many readers expressed an interest in Nyanga mythology. I’m all about giving readers what they want so here are brief looks at the deities of the Nyanga people.

KATEE – The god of hedgehogs. Katee spoke through one of his animal avatars to warn the semidivine hero Mwindo about some of Kasiyembe’s death traps.

MWERI – The moon goddess. Her domain is the moon itself and is  composed of alternate hot, sandy wasteland and lush blue waters. Mweri sees everything that happens at night and therefore has ties to lovemaking, fertility, sleeping, thievery and assassinations. She can send dreams or nightmares as well as prophetic messages in those dreams. Visitors to Mweri’s domain can be left wandering in the hot wasteland or even set on fire by her, depending on the goddess’ whim.  Continue reading

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL RESULTS FROM SEPTEMBER 4th

HEADLINES

Indiana Wesleyan WildcatsINDIANA WESLEYAN CONQUERS DIVISION ONE – We already have 2021’s 2nd instance of an NAIA team toppling an NCAA Division ONE team. Every season these games in which NAIA football teams knock off teams from higher divisions like NCAA Divisions One or Two are great David vs Goliath stories! Yesterday the INDIANA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY WILDCATS hosted the D1 VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY BEACONS and won an authoritative 28-10 Upset.

Lawrence Tech Blue DevilsLAWRENCE TECH CONQUERS DIVISION TWO – In the equivalent of a 1AA (FCS) team upsetting a 1A (FBS) team, the NAIA’s LAWRENCE TECH BLUE DEVILS took it on the road against the NCAA Division Two team the BLUEFIELD STATE BIG BLUE. A 7-7 1st Quarter tie was unchanged at Halftime. The 3rd Quarter ended in a 14-14 deadlock before the Blue Devils won the game 21-14 in the 4th. 

Washington and Jefferson PresidentsDOWN GOES NUMBER ELEVEN – Meanwhile, down in NCAA Division Three the 19th ranked WASHINGTON & JEFFERSON COLLEGE PRESIDENTS traveled to face the number 11 JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY BLUE STREAKS. The defenses dominated the scoreless 1st Half, then the 3rd Quarter ended in a 7-7 tie. In the 4th the Presidents won it 21-7. Continue reading

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