I am shocked by this movie. Shocked, I tell you. Bewildered. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Not because Attack of the Puppet People is a great film. Oh, no. My surprise comes from the fact that despite this being a film from Samuel Z. Arkoff’s gristmill, American International Pictures, and despite it being produced and directed by shitty movie auteur Bert I. Gordon, this film does not suck. It’s low-rent, to be sure, and there are more than a few amateurish moments scattered throughout, but this flick is at least as good as contemporary television sci-fi. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: Attack of the Puppet People”
What a boring, plodding, nonfrightening, trope-filled mess we have with The Screaming Skull, from 1958. There was a promising film in here, somewhere. After all, an uncountable mass of pulp fiction and comic books (especially EC Comics in their heyday) used the exact same plot, with the exact same ending. If they couldn’t be competent, then the least director Alex Nicol and company could have done was be enjoyably shitty, but they couldn’t even manage that.
At the beginning of this film, viewers are treated to an announcement from the film’s producers promising a free coffin should anyone die of fright while watching the movie. It’s not the worst marketing ploy of the time, and the producers could sleep easy about ever paying it out. This is amongst the least-frightening horror movies I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: The Screaming Skull”
Frogs, the 1972 environmental horror flick from screenwriters Robert Hutchison and Robert Blees, and director George McCowan, has a misleading title. There are indeed frogs in Frogs, and they do indeed pose a menace to the characters in the film, but there are also plenty of toads, snakes, geckos, iguanas, tarantulas, scorpions, and other creepy-crawlies lurking about. The title Frogs gives short shrift to all the other swamp beasties that make an effort to murder the film’s protagonists.
Sam Elliott, in an early role, stars as Pickett Smith, a freelance photographer taking pictures of the effects of pollution and littering in a swampland environment. It’s not pretty, as Smith finds civilizational detritus everywhere he looks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Frogs”
Night of the Blood Beast is barely a movie. That shouldn’t be any surprise to viewers familiar with its pedigree. It comes to us via American International Pictures, and was produced by not one, but two, members of the Corman clan. Despite there being twice as much Corman as audiences would usually get, this flick looks as if it had half the budget.
From 1958, Blood Beast plays out like an updated version of It Conquered the World, only with all the fat trimmed. That’s quite a feat carried out by screenwriter Martin Varno and director Bernard Kowalski, because that flick didn’t have any fat to trim. It was a test of an audience’s patience, and so is Blood Beast. It amazes me that a film like this could have such a short running time, at 62 minutes, and the filmmakers had trouble filling that up. It’s as if Roger Corman would hire writers to pen a half-hour long episode of The Twilight Zone, and then tell his directors to stretch it out as much as they could. I wouldn’t be surprised if Corman paid his writers by the page, and thin screenplays were his way of pinching ever more pennies. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast”
Being a shitty movie fan is most rewarding when some obscure piece of cinematic ineptitude turns out to be entertaining. It’s impossible to know beforehand how one will react to a shitty movie. Every entertaining shitty movie is an unexpected surprise — the reward that makes slogging through the muck worth it. Today’s ’50s flick is part of the muck.
Released in 1956, The She-Creature comes from American International Pictures. AIP may have released a good flick here and there, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head. It really was a clearing house for schlock. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: The She-Creature”
American International Pictures specialized in crap, but even for AIP, this is a bad one. The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues is among the most tedious, least interesting films I’ve ever seen. It’s a monster flick that has more dialogue than a Merchant Ivory costume drama, and all of it is inane. There’s even a spy angle that does little more than stretch out the running time and subject us to more talking. And the monster? It’s a rubber suit, but it could just as well have been a statue for all the trouble Norma Hanson, who was in the suit, had moving around. Phantom is a direct challenge to a viewer’s attention span. If there is a smartphone within reach, I defy any viewer to watch this flick without picking it up. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues”
Chrome and Hot Leather walks and talks like drive-in outlaw biker gang flick, but it’s missing the two most important elements of true exploitation cinema: blood and nudity. It starts out promisingly enough, and, overall, it’s a quite enjoyable shitty movie watch, but it’s like a cake with no icing. It’s still good, but it wouldn’t be all that hard to make it better.
From way back in 1971, Chrome and Hot Leather was directed by Lee Frost, from a screenplay by Michael Haynes, David Neibel, and Don Tait. Whomever came up with the title isn’t listed in the credits, but that mysterious person certainly did more for this film’s longevity than anything that was captured on film. Perhaps it was producer Wes Bishop. No matter who is responsible, they did a nice job. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Chrome and Hot Leather”
It’s a melancholy day for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow, for this is the last film of the month from giant monster auteur Bert I. Gordon. His peak days as a filmmaker were in the 1950s, but while Gordon’s pace of work slowed, he never went more than a few years without directing something. In 1977, that something was Empire of the Ants, also written by Gordon, loosely adapting the H.G. Wells story of the same name. Something of a follow-up to Gordon’s Food of the Gods, Empire of the Ants tells the story of a Florida real estate pitch gone wrong. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Empire of the Ants”
This is an important day for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow. The featured auteur of this month of reviews has returned. For the seventh time this month, a review features a film by Bert I. Gordon. Yes, a filmmaker that showed mastery at failing to master the art of filmmaking is back. Today’s film, from 1976, also shows that although more than twenty years had passed since Gordon’s first movie, he stayed true to his unique abilities as a filmmaker. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: The Food of the Gods”
The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow carries on! After spending nineteen straight films in the 1950s, we have our first feature from after that defining decade of the monster flick, but all that’s changed is that today’s movie was filmed in color.
Reptilicus, from 1961, is a joint Danish-American monster flick that was filmed in two versions. One was shot in Danish, directed by Poul Bang, and that’s the version Danish audiences saw. The other version was directed by Sidney Pink, used most of the same performers, but was shot in English, for distribution in the United States. But, American International Pictures, which distributed the film in the US, didn’t like the English cut, and ordered substantial changes. The changes were enough for Pink, who was also the film’s producer and a credited screenwriter, to take AIP to court. It was a brief dispute, but an indication of divergence between the two versions of this film. I’m curious just how different the Danish version is from the English, but not curious enough to sit through this dog again, at least for now. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Reptilicus”