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This means it contains some movies that are lost, some movies that Universal no longer owns, and some movies (mostly Paramount) that it did not produce but has since acquired.
It also contains some films whose status as horror (or the other above mentioned genres and sub-genres) is questionable, or even doubtful, all in the name of thoroughness.
I hope to continue to update this list, adding new entries and describing the status of the more obscure ones listed.
Though the packages were padded with non-horror thrillers like Danger Woman and the Man Who Cried Wolf, a number of films from 1931 to 1946 (the years covered by the Shock packages) were not included.
Not all of these films are pure horror films, but most would have been more welcome late night viewing than Chinatown Squad or Reported Missing.
Some of the films were probably considered to "classy" to be part of the package. Some might have already been released on another package. Some might have been missing, overlooked, or lacking a decent print.
In any case, here are some notable Universal films that were not released as part of the Shock packages.
NOTE: This list doesn't include any of the many Paramount films (like Island of Lost Souls or The Monster and the Girl) which MCA purchased in 1958. None were ever included in a Shock film package, possibly because MCA did not take over Universal until 1962.
The list also does not include films that Universal lost the rights to, like The Old Dark House and Life Returns.
Obama: The Road to Moneygall (2011)
A love story between a small Irish town and a U.S. President
In 2008, Barack Obama's campaign to be the first black U.S. President stirred up excitement all over the United States and the world, but especially in a little Irish town called Moneygall.
You see, the residents of Moneygall realized that one of Obama's ancestors came from Moneygall. Proof that Obama was Irish as well as African proved to be a dream come true.
Was all this because of the hope that Obama would herald a new age of statesmanship? Partially, but it's also a measure of how much the dwindling little village needed something to make itself known and vibrant.
In a succinct one hour, we see how the boosterism of the town, spearheaded by Barack's young, distant cousin, Henry Healy, finally got got the president to visit his ancestral village.
As is often the case, the pursuit of the dream proves to be more thrilling than the fulfillment, but I wager you'll still see Obama's picture in the town's pubs. Both of them.
Recommended for those who love at least two of the following: Barack Obama, Ireland, and/or lighthearted documentaries.
The Best Episode, Because the Inventors are Do-It-Yourselfers Like Wallace
I knew this show wouldn't be as fun as the usual AArdman animated effort. Not matter how hard the human hosts try, the kids know they're just filler between the brief, wonderfully animated clips of Wallace & Gromit hosting the show.
But this episode is different, because most of the inventors are do-it-yourselfers Like Wallace, and they are also just as spirited. See for yourself if you don't get a lump in your throat when Tony Sale reactivates the robot he created over 60 years ago, and the two oldsters go out shopping.
Two other inventors are nothing short of heroic: William Kamkwamba, who used instructions in a book to make a windmill which brought power to his family's house in Malawi; and Trevor Baylis, an Englishman who invented a wind-up radio that would bring the information age to places that had no way to power standard devices.
On the more whimsical side, there's the Einstein Fridge, which proves even ol' Albert didn't bat a thousand.
And for the capper, or should I say "cupper," there's the Teasmade, an alarm clock that has a freshly brewed cup of tea ready for you when it wakes you up. It's the kind of uniquely UK Gadget that Wallace himself probably wishes he had invented.
Probably the funnest episode
Josie and the Pussycats was a fun, mostly successful attempt to combine the teen music approach of the Archies with the "meddling kids" adventures of Scooby-Doo, except that, in the tradition of the Beatles Help!, Josie and her gang stumbled onto evil masterminds and criminal organizations instead of ghostly mysteries.
This episode has some of the scariest scenes of the series, especially the appearance of the T. Rex and when D. Madreau devolves his scientific rivals into gorillas, Of course, it's a much lighter approach when the cowardly Alex gets the gorilla treatment. Unlike the other victims, he retains his intelligence, and doesn't even doff his glasses. What's really funny, however, is how he is no more impressive as a gorilla then he was as a human.
It's too bad the Pussycats failed to match the Archie's success in the music charts, because their songs were often fun, as are pretty much all of their adventures.
Goodie, the Gremlin (1961)
The title alone tells you it's a rip-off
By 1961, Paramount had sold off Casper to Harvey Comics and ended his popular cartoon series.
Obviously, someone at Paramount regretted the decision. How else can you explain Goodie the Gremlin, a thinly disguised redesign of Casper? Aside from Goodie's pointed ears, the main differences between him and Casper are that Goodie is green and wants to do good deeds instead of "making friends." The rip-off alone would make it less than desirable, but the animation is severely limited, and the gags and story are weak. Like Casper, Goodie seems aimed at the very young, but the story is resolved by getting arguing neighbors drunk.
Which Is Witch? (1958)
Wendy's Un-Spook-Tacular debut
As a kid, I loved the Harvey Comics version of Casper, with its enchanted forest setting and big supporting cast led by his girlfriend Wendy, the Good Little Witch.
I later was thrilled to find out that Casper starred in cartoons, but was a little let down that they generally omitted the enchanted forest and its denizens.
So you can imagine how happy I was to catch this cartoon, which starts with Casper and Spooky (my favorite Harvey character, even more than Casper), and then introduces Wendy! After that, however, it was downhill. I actually didn't mind that Spooky plays the bad guy here; Casper needed a foil, and even Spooky's solo comic book adventures made it clear he could be troublemaker.
Wendy, however is ill served in this, her animated debut. First her hair seems a little different. That isn't so bad in itself, but as soon as she goes on a date with Casper at the beach, she changes into a swimsuit and becomes completely unrecognizable. To make it worse, she doesn't use even a lick of magic.
The formulaic plot has Spooky sabotaging her day at the beach, and making poor Casper his fall guy, but there are no remarkable gags, and neither Casper not Wendy ever turns the tables on Spooky. That's left up to Wendy's roommate Hazel, who puts Spooky into place with broomstick-powered baseball skills.
So, Casper finally gets to share the spotlight with two of his supporting characters, only to have all three of them upstaged by a one-shot witch.
Bouncing Benny (1960)
Gerald McBoing-Boing this is definitely not-not
This simple short, plainly derivative of 1951's Gerald McBoing-Boing, is about a hapless couple whose new baby has a bouncy spring for a spine. His incessant bouncing causes him and his parents no end of trouble, but when the home football team needs a miracle, it may finally prove to be a blessing.
I would rate this film a little higher, but for two distracting flaws: 1) At the end of the film, Benny shrinks in size from a teenager to a boy, dues to carelessness on the animators' part, and 2) the "cute" gag at the opening, when Benny's powers are discovered after Benny's father drops him over a railing!
Boo Bop (1957)
Casper shows some musical talents (and some originality)
This is certainly one of the better Casper shorts, largely because of its new ideas.
Instead of that standard plot of Casper trying to find a friend, this time he visits a museum, where he meets the ghost of Franz Schubert, still at his piano trying to finish his unfinished symphony.
Schubert can't concentrate, however, because of the noise of the modern world, so the kindly Casper strives to make things a quiet as possible.
The story is good, the gags smooth, and the twist ending is satisfying.
Also good is the animation. Paramount had trouble adapting to the limited animation style that had come into vogue, but nothing here looks too weird or stiff.
Abusement Park (1947)
Old Plot, New Gags
Bluto tries to steal Olive Oyl by besting Popeye at various game booths at the amusement park, a pretty basic plot that they used in the very first Popeye theatrical short.
But while they first couple of gags are good, the short becomes increasingly wild, starting when Popeye and Olive enter the tunnel of Love,and climaxing on an outrageous chase on a roller coaster.
If the the craziness is a bit haphazard, lacking the timing and comic sense of someone like Tex Avery, the ambition is still appreciated.
The establishing shots and backgrounds of the park and roller coaster are wild and beautiful, with an impressive watercolor glow.
Be prepared, however, to see Olive get even rougher treatment than usual. A lot of people understandably dislike the way she's treated on screen, but I have to admit, it's never bothered me. Olive is more a living rubber band than a person.
It is odd, however, that the driving plot device is the protection of Olive, a woman who can be hurled against a factory smokestack hard enough to knock it off its perch without even getting as much as a scratch.
A Ventriloquist Dummy Gets a Solo Act
I really think Muppets Tonight was an underrated effort by Henson & Co., even if the show was a little weighed down by the attempts to stay "hip." "The Gary Cahuenga Episode" has always been my personal favorite, even if it never lived up to its potential. The basic premise - a '60s Rat Pack era ventriloquist dummy rescued from a long neglected suitcase and adjusting to life with he Muppets in the'90s - is terrific. Unfortunately, the Gary Cahuenga character never got a chance to develop or find a niche within the show. The presence of crooner Johnny Fiama, another swinging '60s character, only made it harder.
This is too bad, because he looks great, a realistic ventriloquist dummy with a retro tux and graying hair. There's also a generally moving moment when he contemplates suicide rather than going it alone without his human partner. This is resolved with just the right balance between humor and drama when guest stars Penn & Teller impersonate the ghost of his partner to lift Gary's spirits.
I think the main reason I like Gary is that he's a tribute to the ventriloquist acts like Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy who helped inspired Henson and his cohorts in their early days. It's nice to know that they aren't forgotten.
The Parking Lot Movie (2010)
A funny film about America's least valued citizens (parking lot attendants) and its most valued citizens (cars)
This is a funny, breezy look at an odd little parking lot with an odd little crew of undergrads, grad, and grad students, all biding their time while pursuing their various interests. The lot is located near the University of Virginia and right behind a stretch of bars, which guarantees plenty of obnoxious, privileged, entitled jerks who drive $100,000 cars and are outraged at the thought of paying a couple of bucks to park them.
The attendants deal with it all in a way that's quirky and funny. They're treated as the lowest of the low (some customers delight in pitching their payments on the ground; some just crash the gate) and giving out a little hostility as well.(One attendant always engages the emergency break when parking cars, ostensibly for safety but actually in hope that the driver will neglect to disengage it.)
I saw this as an episode of the PBS series Independent Lens, and it looks like it was a somewhat edited version, as it ran under an hour. Still, I can't see how another 30 minutes of these proud misfits wouldn't be welcome.
A good time, and a reminder that documentaries need not be too serious.
The people who park your cars
This is a funny, breezy look at an odd little parking lot with an odd little crew of undergrads, grad, and grad students, all biding their time while pursuing their various interests. The lot is located near the University of Virginia and right behind a stretch of bars, which guarantees plenty of obnoxious, privileged, entitled jerks who drive $100,000 cars and are outrages at the thought of paying a couple of bucks to park them.
The attendants deal with it all in a way that's quirky and funny. They're treated as the lowest of the low (some customers delight in pitching their payments on the ground; some just crash the gate) and giving out a little hostility as well(one attendant always engages the emergency break when parking cars, ostensibly for safety but actually in hopes the driver will neglect to disengage it).
A good time, and a reminder that documentaries need not be too serious.
Young and Healthy (1933)
Poorly animated, Plot less, and Unfunny
This early Warner Brothers Cartoon decides that the perfect theme for the song "Young and Healthy" is to have a rotund king (Louis XVI, apparently) grumble about, slap around his Jimmy Durante Jack-in-the-Box, and scowl at his homely queen.
The short looks like it might become interesting when the King brightens up upon seeing a group of poor children playing, and joins them, but even them nothing much comes of it. The King leads them into the palace, but never makes it up the stairs. (There's a LOT of stair climbing and falling in this cartoon.) Warner Brothers animation had not yet reached its era of greatness, but this was a poor effort by even their early standards.
Barnum & Ringling, Inc. (1928)
Circus in a Hotel
The gang usually played middle class or poor kids, but in this one, they're all guests in a posh hotel (except for Farina, who's a bellboy). They still plan mischief, however, and decide to stage a full scale circus with a menagerie of "authentic" wild animals.
The wild animals--cats, dogs, etc, made up to look like various exotic species--is a major part of this short, and though a lot of them are funny, the montage of them goes on a bit long. There are some odd choices as well. Why dress up a parrot as a turtle, or an ostrich as a Zebra? Aren't they exotic enough as is? Well, that's the gang for you.
Of course, they get caught and the hotel is soon full of guests being spooked by weirdly dressed kids and animals.
And yes, Oliver Hardy plays a drunk. I'm not sure if this was a star cameo or whether he was just doing his bit as a Hal Roach contract player.
The print I saw was in great condition, and has the real appeal of all classic Our Gang Comedies, which is watching kids misbehave and having the time of their lives in the process.
Batman: The Wail of the Siren (1967)
Not all third season episodes are bad
Made when the show's episode length was cut in two and the budget slashed maybe even more, this episode does a pretty good job of overcoming those constraints.
It has a new and original villain, beautifully played by the perfectly cast Joan Collins. The Siren's ability to mesmerize men with her high-pitched singing makes her a credible threat, and her plan to defeat Batman and steal Bruce Wayne's millions actually make sense, as do the counter measures taken by Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.
Several twists make this show stand out. The mesmerized Commissioner Gordon actually infiltrates the Batcave and discovers Batman's identity, and Robin and Batgirl have to go it alone when Bruce Wayne falls under siren's spell. But the most interesting idea was that the Siren appeared in the middle of the previous episode as a supporting character, not just in the standard end teaser. Continuity like that was rare in the episodic TV of the '60s, and more of it might have helped the series.
The script cleverly utilizes most of the regular cast, with guest casting required only for the Siren and her two chief henchmen, one of them being popular movie and TV tough guy Mike Mazurki.
Like most of the third season, the new sets are cheap and lack even walls, but clever design here makes good use of them. The Siren's grotto hideout is dark and exotic, and the rooftop Bruce Wayne nearly jumps off of doesn't need walls to work.
Superheroes as Underdogs
This very entertaining episode features several rank & file Justice League members - none with any natural powers - forced to take on a Superman-level villain.
There is something endearing about these not-so-super superheroes trying to rise to the occasion. Everybody likes the idea of being "super," but when it comes down to brass tacks, there's no hero like an underdog.
Still, my favorite part of the episode is at the beginning, when they substitute for Superman at a parade. The assignment is humiliating, and the crowd's disappointment makes it worse still. Thank goodness the fast-talking western hero Vigilante gets his fellow heroes to show off a little!
Justice League Unlimited: Alive! (2006)
Just the Villains!
This is my favorite episode of this series, as it focuses on Lex Luthor using his power over the Secret Society to further his mad ambitions. With no superheroes to root for, you can sit back and enjoy watching these unprincipled, selfish jerks battle it out for control. The villains fight really dirty, and the resulting mayhem is impressive.
One of the fun things about this episode is watching all the odd villains culled from almost 70 years of comics. And you'll see that Luthor really does deserve his status as Superman's arch foe.
Be ready for a couple of good plot twists, and don't worry about your kids seeing this. Being a hero may be hard, but being a villain just plain sucks. Even with no heroes around these guys manage to defeat themselves.
What -- No Spinach? (1936)
Let's You and Him Fight
After Popeye, Wimpy was the most popular character in E.C. Segar's "Thimble Theater" comic strip, but in the Fleischer and Famous Studio cartoons, he was usually just a bit player. This film marks the one time he took center stage.
And it's 100% Wimpy. It takes place in a diner, Wimpy's favorite hangout in the strip. The only difference is that here, Wimpy is an employee, not a patron, but he's still trying to filch free hamburgers from the proprietor, Bluto (who is more or less subbing for Rough House, the greasy spoon cook from the strip). When Popeye enters and orders a roast duck, Wimpy tricks the two into fighting so that he can pilfer some food.
Bluto's a bit more aggressive than Popeye, but they're not playing hero and villain this time, just two straight-men for J. Wellington Wimpy, the comic compilation of the worst traits of W. C. Fields, Stan Laurel, and Oliver Hardy.
It's clear from the film why the cartoonists preferred the more action-oriented Popeye, but it's nice to know that they gave Wimpy his due at least once.
Barney Miller: Hash (1976)
Hands Down, the Funniest Episode
It's a typical day at the precinct. The most interesting thing that has happened is that Wojciehowicz has brought in some brownies his girlfriend baked. Only there's something he doesn't know about those brownies...
What "The Naked Time" did for "Star Trek", this episode does for "Barney Miller," but with laughs. An excellent episode with flat-out drug humor that they could never get away with today. We get to see a whole new side of the detectives, and the cast members get to really really stretch their parts without breaking character. And Fish's last scene is not to be missed!
50 Minutes of BS
This is Irwin Allen Productions at its worst, a tail-end of series mishmash of mumbo-jumbo and weird, senseless visual effects.
Several of the "little people" are captured and sent to the other side of the planet in a miniature radio-controlled plane(!). There, they meet the twin brother of the guy who sent them there (to no dramatic purpose, though it does save Allen the cost of hiring another actor). The brother (or rather, the script) puts them through several nightmare scenarios, only to eventually reveal the real reason for their having been sent to him. This purpose is hinted at ominously throughout the episode, and of course it's a huge letdown; he wants them to install a small piece of machinery in a place he can't reach! The episode ends with Allen's favorite fall-back, blowing everything up.
The guest actors are pretty bad, though they certainly don't have much to work with. The nightmare scenarios allow for some time-killing homages to old horror movies and Allen's own "Lost World" (from which it appears footage was lifted). About the only passable moments are when Fitzugh and Dan are confronted with their fears, which are at least in keeping with their established personalities.
I always liked LOTG, and was sorry it didn't get renewed for a third season, but if this was all they could come up with after only two years, perhaps it was best to leave well enough alone.
The Series Hits Its Stride
I always found the first season of WWW to be bit dull. I used to think it might be because it was in black & white, but on reviewing the DVDs I think the show was still waiting to find its tone. This episode shows the series definitely hitting its stride, with science fiction, action, mystery, international intrigue, and disguises wrapped around the story of a man who can steal diamonds without being seen - and beat up James West at the same time.
Best of all, they finally figured out how to handle Artemus Gordon's character. For a good portion of early episodes Ross Martin would hang around the edges of the story. Here he gets almost equal time with Conrad, and he does what he's supposed to do. He assumes disguises. He sets high-tech traps. He arranges diversions. They even know what he doesn't do. Arty has little taste for his partner's specialties like fighting outnumbered or pulling daring stunts. But they both do what they have to do to get the job done.
A stand-out is the performance of Robert Drivas as the boyishly handsome but coolly confident Morgan Midas.
Thrills and spills all the way!
The series at its Bat-Peak
While the pilot two-parter are the best produced episodes, this is my favorite Riddler episode, and one of the peaks of the series. We get a great villain (Gorshin, still unsurpassed as the Riddler), a cool moll and henchmen (the Gidget-esquire Mousey and the absurd Sewer Rat gang), impressive guest stars (the regal Reginald Denny as King Boris, the breathtaking Joy Harmon as a beauty queen), and best of all, a top-notch story and script.
Most Batman episodes are just a series of skirmishes between the Dynamic Duo and the villain, but here the Riddler has a reason - no matter how demented - for every action he takes. There's a real mystery here, and Batman solves it.
Other highlights include (in part 2)an impostor masquerading as Batman, but surprise! He actually does a halfway decent job of it. Touches like this help put this one ahead of the bat-pack.
Spook Spoofing (1928)
Our Gang Scare-Fest Gets Better at the End
This short has a lot of funny moments, but it's too long (the longest of all the "Our Gang" shorts, I've heard), and leans too much on mocking the cowardice and gullibility of Farina, the sole black character in the film. The rest of the gang is reduced to a bunch of bullies. The more they pick on Farina, the slower and more annoying the film becomes.
The short picks up when Farina is tricked into entering a graveyard and the gang's pranks backfire, scaring them as much as Farina. Some of the gags are elaborate and even spooky, and the pace becomes lightning fast. I think if they had edited down the first half this would have been a classic.
Batman: Fine Feathered Finks (1966)
My Vote for Best Episode
This episode features not only the first appearance of Burgess Meredith's unforgettable Penguin, but maybe the tightest script the show ever got.
In brief, the Penguin has announced he's gone straight (a trick he often pulled in both the comics and the show) and opens up an umbrella shop. In reality, he's scheming to get back into crime by having Batman plan his heists for him! How the Penguin does this, and how Batman ultimately foils him, make this one Batman episode that is more than just a series of fights in-between jokes. It has a beginning, a middle and an end, and they're all good.
It also doesn't hurt that it features Leslie Parrish, one of the most gorgeous female guest stars ever.
Land of the Giants: The Clones (1969)
Great Don Marshall performance
This episode contains very few "giant" special effects aside from the usual giant props. This is probably because of the many split screen shots of the regular cast and their clones. Yes, a scientist has captured some of the "little people" and is using them in a cloning experiment. The process makes an exact duplicate, including their memory, clothes, hairstyle and make-up. Welcome to the world of Irwin Allen productions.
The only problem is, the clones are unstable in both senses of the word. After awhile, their skin shows spots and they become paranoid and hostile.
So far, it's a typical episode. The twist comes when, after they escape from the scientist, Dan begins to wonder if he's one of the clones. The others laugh it off and remind him his skin isn't showing any spots, but Dan, who is black, knows the spots might not be visible on his skin. It creates a suspenseful episode, and features a great performance by Don Marshall.
The Muppets' Secret Origin
I caught this when it first aired (I think) in the summer of 1975. Viewers today seem to look at this pilot as a misfire, with its odd set pieces and the low-key Nigel as host. (Nigel would later be the conductor on "The Muppet Show.") Me, I loved it and I still do. It used "Airplane" style humor years before "Airplane". Keep your eye on the clocks in the backstage office and see what I mean. Anticipating another gimmick popular today, it rewards viewers who sit through the credits with a surprise or two. And it was deliberately aimed at adults, with a bizarre "Seven Deadly Sins" pageant.
Henson and company would learn from this show. The really weird sketches would remain, but almost always as musical numbers, and the show would be tied together as a revue hosted by the more versatile Kermit.
But I'll always cherish the incredible 1/2 hour of joyful senselessness this show represented. Aside from some holiday and fairy tale themed TV specials, the Muppets had never had a full production like this, and this time their were no rules. So we got rubber-limbed wrestlers, birds squawking pickup lines, Mount Rushmore spouting knock-knock jokes, and so on. Heck, some of the characters, like the Swedish Chef and the complaining Stadler and Waldorf, would turn out to be pretty popular.