Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…
The lights have dimmed, the potions mixed, and the black cat curled up snugly.
Week 8: Bills Punter Colton Schmidt Makes Up For Dropping Ball
— Every Sport (@EverySport100) October 30, 2016
Sometimes when you make a big time boo-boo it’s best just to fix it yourself before taking any heat. Bills punter Colton Schmidt straight up drops this ball on the turf way back in Buffalo territory. Total tragedy. Maybe picking it up and punting again is possible, but a turnover on downs or a Pats fumble recovery is the most likely option. It’s best not to think about it too hard, and Colton Schmidt doesn’t.
After the drop and another failed attempt to retrieve the pigskin, Schmidt, decides to run like some kind of terrified animal as he finally gets a grip on the ball. Head down, looking to the sideline, he churns those legs until he’s past the first down marker and out of bounds with at least three big Patriots players breathing down his neck.
It almost looks like Brandon Bolden could have made the tackle, had his teammate Jared Mayo not made a dive at Schmidt. You gotta imagine the meticulous Belichick wasn’t too happy about his special teams performance on this one. On the other side of the ball, Schmidt gets to apologize to special teams coordinator Danny Crossman while his teammates smile, laugh it up, pat him on the back, and continue the drive.
Week 8: The Mask of Fu Manchu
Director: Charles Brabin
With a title like this, and with its 1932 theatrical release date you know you’re not going to be seeing the most culturally sensitive movie out there. The premise alone (lifted from a Sax Rohmer novel) is cringe-worthy with the mad Dr. Fu Manchu (Boris Karloff) questing to find the golden mask and scimitar of Genghis Khan, so he can rally all of Asia behind him and destroy white Christendom.
The picture provides an interesting mashup between the adventure and horror genres with its square-jawed English archaeologists in exotic locals pitted against a rival who is fond of esoteric means of torture, and a daughter who possesses a wicked and wildly pre-code penchant for sadism (a wonderful if underutilized turn by Myrna Loy).
As obnoxious and offensive as the film’s general premise is, most of the actual racism onscreen is boneheadedly unspecific with a cultural hodgepodge of costumes and set decorations. The sets in particularly are gorgeous, and along with the expected chinoiserie there is statuary and bric-a-brac that actually impressively displays a whole catalog of ancient art styles from Central and East Asia. If the depictions on the screen may be juvenile and troubling, there is at least the sense that the production designer and art director took great care and love in seriously replicating ancient art from the region.
If you can get past the backwards insensitivity, there’s some truly weird thrills to be had here: torture scenes involving a perpetually ringing bell, a pit of alligators, and a slowly closing room of spiked walls, a hypnotism serum made from the blood of venomous animals and “seven sacred herbs,” a knife throwing assassin, black musclemen in loincloths serving as Fu Manchu’s guards, the lavish tomb of Genghis Khan himself, a machine that arcs electricity all around the room that will later turn into a super laser-like weapon, and the ironic conceit that Dr. Fu was highly educated at a variety of top western universities (he’s a Harvard man amongst other things!).
This is obviously the kind of picture that gets laughed at more for its ridiculousness than offensiveness, however there is a final joke in the last seconds of run time involving an Asian porter ringing a dinner bell that is genuinely mean-spirited and hard to stomach. I could picture that being a deal-breaker for many a viewer, so be warned.
The trailer can be found here in this triple-bill promo. Skip to 00:32 for your Karloff fix: