Der Frosch mit der Maske (1952)

The Frog with the Mask aka Face of the Frog was based on the Edgar Wallace book Fellowship of the Frog. All things both krimini and giallo flow from Mr. Wallace, so this film is rather essential, as the success of this picture led to Rialto making a series of 32 Wallace films over the next twenty years.

There’s a gang of frog-tattooed ne’er do wells led by a frog-masked madman who is going hopping mad — sorry — in London. They are coming after Ella Bennett, who is protected by not only Scotland Yard, but by Richard Gordon, a millionaire playboy with a butler named James who is in no way Bruce Wayne in nature.

This story had already been filmed by Archibald B Heath’s as the serial The Mark of the Frog in 1928 and Jack Raymond’s The Frog in 1937. Thanks, A Wasted Life!

Man, there’s a lot of plot jammed into the running time here and not a lot of it is memorable. You know what is? A frog man that orders the death of people. More of that please!

Invasion, U.S.A. (1952)

Invasion, U.S.A. was the second film from American Pictures Corporation, who had just made their first film, Captive Women. The company was made up of Albert Zugsmith (Girls Town, the bizarre The Chinese Room), Peter Miller, Aubrey Wisberg  (who would write Hercules In New York) and Jack Pollexfen (Indestructible Man) with Joseph Justman as the producer. Their plan was to make six films a year and for this one, they worked alongside the U.S. Civil Defense to make a film that would prepare people for the horrors of nuclear war. It even boasted the alternate title The Complacent Americans and If the Bomb Falls: A Recorded Guide to Survival.

The film takes place in a New York City bar, where Mr. Ohman (yes, that’s Conal Cochran himself, Dan O’Herlihy) is trying to explain to a group of well-to-do Americans, including TV anchorman Vince Potter (Gerald Mohr, The Angry Red Planet and the voice of Reed Richards on the original Marvel cartoons that barely moved), an industrialist, a rancher, a Congressman and a society girl (Peggie Castle, TV’s Lawman and Beginning of the End). None of them are against Communism and just want to enjoy the spoils of living in America.

Within oh, 74 minutes, their lives go to Hell as troops land in Alaska while atomic blasts rock America’s cities. Every single one of them dies horribly, even if the TV announcer and rich girl fall in love, as he’s shot on the air and she leaps to her doom from a balcony. Luckily, everyone had been in a trance and as we see our heroine fall into a glass of brandy, Ohman releases everyone. Now they know what Americans need to do — which is ironically pitch in and work for the needs of the collective instead of individual needs, which sounds a lot like Communism, which makes sense, because now we live in a country where anti-fascism is referred to as fascism and no one really knows what socialism means.

Politics aside, this movie features two actresses that played Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill), Clarence A. Shoop (beyond being a Two-Star General, Shoop was the technical advisor on a number of films including So Proudly We Hail!, One Minute to Zero and Jet Pilot, as well as being on The Bob Cummings Show, as he was Cummings base commander while the actor was a pilot; he was also a Vice President at Hughes Aircraft and definitely saw an alien at some point, right?), Edward G. Robinson Jr. and voice-over star Know Manning (who told kids all over America the dangers of, well, everything in She Shoulda Said No!).

You can watch this on Tubi.

Valkoinen Peura (1952)

I don’t think we’ve ever covered a Finnish movie before, much less one with a werereindeer, which I didn’t even think was something. You learn something new every day and movies help you do it.

At the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, this movie won Best Fairy Tale film from a Jean Cocteau-led jury. I also didn’t even know there was a Best Fair Tale award.

This is probably the only movie out there based on pre-Christian Finnish mythology and Sami shamanism, so enjoy it. Mirjami Kuosmanen — director Erik Blomberg’s wife who sadly died young from a brain hemorrhage — plays Pirita, a bride who misses her husband Aslak while he away herding reindeer.

She wants to ignite passion in her life and keep her husband home, so she visits a shaman. In turn, he turns Pirita — who was born of a witch — into a shapeshifting vampiric white reindeer. All she had to do was sacrifice the first thing she saw when she returned home, which ends up being the baby deer that her husband has brought her as a gift.

Now, she is irresistible to all men, men who she lures as the reindeer into the woods and then drains them of their blood.

The White Reindeer is the kind of magical movie that slowly finds its way into your mind and then takes a place inside it.