October Horrorshow: King Dinosaur

One of the things we love here at Missile Test is a short running time. We praise filmmakers who are able to reign in their desire for epic grandiosity and who can tell their stories in a reasonable amount of time. Sure, we wouldn’t want Francis Ford Coppola to do any further trimming of The Godfather, but we’re still holding out hope that Paul Thomas Anderson will come to his senses and take a hacksaw to Magnolia. And then there’s shitty film auteur Bert I. Gordon’s first feature film, King Dinosaur. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: King Dinosaur”

October Horrorshow: The Ritual

A creepy cabin in some lonely woods. A small cast. A mysterious monster that stalks them. Most of us film fans have seen this movie many, many times. Such a broad outline has spawned hundreds of horror films over the years. Some are good, some are awful, and most are just mediocre. In that, these horror films are like every other film that features well-worn tropes. One can’t expect too much originality, which makes it all the better when something new is to be found. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Ritual”

October Horrorshow: Tarantula

For a giant monster flick, there isn’t a whole lot of giant monster in 1955’s Tarantula, the film from director Jack Arnold and screenwriters Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley. An adaptation of a Fresco teleplay for Science Fiction Theatre, the main action in the original plot surrounded the efforts of scientists to develop a synthetic nutrient. Not happy with the progress of the experiments, the scientists tested the nutrient on themselves, with horrific results. I’m not sure of the process involved, but at some point in the mid-1950s, someone involved in the production thought, “Hey, what if we took that TV episode we made a couple of months back, and added a giant tarantula?” Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Tarantula”

October Horrorshow: Castle Freak

According to the internet, so it must be true, filmmaker Stuart Gordon was in producer Charles Band’s office when he noticed a poster for a film called Castle Freak. There was no film, as yet — just a poster. But, if Gordon wanted the project, Band said, he could have it, as long as the film he made had a castle and a freak in it. It’s a scene straight out of Ed Wood, so who knows how true it is. True or not, Gordon took the idea and ran with it, making a horror film that was…unique. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Castle Freak”

October Horrorshow: It Came from Beneath the Sea

Ray Harryhausen is a Hollywood legend. In a time of painstaking manual effects work, his skill as a stop-motion animator was in high demand for those films requiring the fantastical. But, what happened when such a talented worker was called on for a flick with only $150k in its budget?

It Came from Beneath the Sea exemplifies just about everything common in 1950’s b-monster fare. There’s a gigantic monster that was created by American nuclear testing (of course); a square-jawed hero in the form of Commander Pete Mathews of the United States Navy (Kenneth Tobey, making his second appearance in this year’s Horrorshow); a scientist-in-residence who provides useful exposition in Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis); and a plucky love interest who challenges, but still resides in, 1950s Hollywood sexual mores in Professor Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue). Add all these ingredients, stir in some scenes of wanton destruction and much fretting in a laboratory, and one has a monster flick. It’s as easy as that. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: It Came from Beneath the Sea”

October Horrorshow: They’re Watching

It just doesn’t feel like the October Horrorshow until the first review of a found footage flick has been posted. This year the honor goes to They’re Watching, the 2016 film from writing and directing duo Jay Lender and Micah Wright.

The film follows the crew of a home improvement reality show. They are going back to Moldova six months after the subject of an episode, Becky Westlake (Brigid Brannagh), bought and began to rehab a dilapidated house in the woods. The place looked like a total lost cause. It had been empty for decades. All the glass had been broken. Walls and floors had been exposed to wind, rain, freezing, thawing, vandalism, and everything else that causes an abandoned building to slowly fall apart. The best thing would have been to knock it down and start over. But, when the crew arrives on site, after a somewhat harrowing journey to the house, they find that Becky appears to have done a top-notch job. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: They’re Watching”

No, No, No! We Do NOT Need This.

If one is like me, an American with a smartphone, then one probably got a test of FEMA’s Presidential Alert system:

If one is also like me, then one thinks the United States government just overstepped its bounds. Our relationship with politics and politicians in this country is toxic. Our government is full of self-important bureaucrats and elected leaders who think that everything they do is of critical substance. It is not. Continue reading “No, No, No! We Do NOT Need This.”

October Horrorshow: Them!

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms may have established the formula by which 1950s American giant monster flicks operated (nuclear test + ordinary creature = giant monster), but it was 1954’s Them! that first did it well.

Directed by Gordon Douglas from a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman and Russell Hughes and a story by George Worthing Yates, Them! tells a tale of nature run amok. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Them!”

October Horrorshow: City of the Living Dead

This film has nothing to do with George Romero’s Dead films. In a bit of shameless commercialism, City of the Living Dead is another Italian film that tries to ride the coattails of a profitable American horror franchise. And it’s not a case of an American distribution company changing the name of the film. When it was released in Italy, this film was given the title Paura nella città die morti viventi, which, according to the internet, translates as Fear in the City of the Living Dead. Clear? Good. Compared to other low-budget Italian horror fare, these title shenanigans are nothing. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: City of the Living Dead”

October Horrorshow: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow continues. Half b-movie, half decent monster flick, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a typical example of 1950s giant monster fare. Coming from 1953, the film was directed by Eugène Lourié, and is based, in an extended fashion, on The Fog Horn, a short story by Ray Bradbury. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms”