It Came from the ’50s: The Tingler

Gimmicks present unique problems when it comes to film, or art, or anything. Gimmicks may be useful for an initial draw, but people tire of them. Gimmicks are also used to disguise, or make up for, a lack of funds or competence. That is why William Castle, despite throwing some interesting gimmicks into his films, is remembered for being a shitty movie director as much as an innovator.

The Tingler, from 1959, was Castle’s most ambitious foray into gimmickry. Besides producing, Castle directed, from a screenplay by Robb White. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Tingler”

It Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Regular readers know that we here at Missile Test love us some schlock. Especially the ’50s kind, with its cheap sets, hammy actors, ridiculous monsters, and short ties. At first glance, 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers would fit right in. But, this flick ain’t schlock. Oh, no.

Directed by Don Siegel (who directed some excellent movies — including Dirty Harry), from a screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, adapting Jack Finney’s novel, Body Snatchers tells the tale of a small town in California whose residents are being replaced by impostors. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)”

October Horrorshow: The Legend of Boggy Creek

Joe Bob Briggs, drive-in movie reviewer and movie host extraordinaire, once referred to this strange film as a ‘horror documentary musical reality show’, and that pretty well sums things up. But, in the interest of being thorough, and to stretch out this review to over 600 words, a little more detail is in order.

The Legend of Boggy Creek comes to us from way back in 1972. The brainchild of local Arkansas TV personality Charles B. Pierce, Boggy Creek, to add to Joe Bob’s flowing description, is a docudrama. It consists of dramatic recreations of encounters the people of Fouke, Arkansas had with a bigfoot-like creature in 1971. These stories were taken seriously enough to be featured in newspapers and on television. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Legend of Boggy Creek”

October Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer

Tom Savini is a horror legend. He’s every bit as important to the history of the genre as some of its greatest auteurs. Without Savini, George Romero’s 1970s and ’80s horror work wouldn’t have the same punch. It was Savini’s expertise that allowed Joe Pilato’s torso to be pulled to pieces in Day of the Dead, and Don Keefer to be dragged into a crate and mutilated by a Tasmanian devil in Creepshow. Savini is an artist in the medium of fake blood. And while his work elevated good horror movies, it also made obscure horror flicks, like Maniac, worth watching for the effects alone. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Prowler, aka Rosemary’s Killer”

Giant Monstershow: The Giant Gila Monster

Of all the shitty monster movies that I’ve watched so far for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow, The Giant Gila Monster might be my favorite, just for how bumbling the whole thing is. It wallows in everything clichéd and bad about the giant monster subgenre of horror flicks from the 1950s. It does away with the expository scientist, sure, but replaces that tired trope with a hip teenager and his girl, following the lead of The Blob. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Giant Gila Monster”

Giant Monstershow: Earth vs. the Spider, aka The Spider

The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow carries on! Today’s film is the sixth this month featuring b-cinema auteur extraordinaire Bert I. Gordon. The man made giant monster flicks his own cottage industry. That’s not too far off of the mark, considering Gordon would shoot effects in his own garage.

Today’s film is Earth vs. The Spider, also released as just The Spider. Released just a few months after War of the Colossal Beast, Earth vs. The Spider switches up the formula for giant monster flicks. Most of the films featured this past month have featured scientists and doctors as the main protagonists, or maybe a military man or two. This film does have those characters, but they’ve been relegated to supporting roles. In this flick, the heroes are teenagers. That’s right. By 1958, shitty filmmakers recognized that it was teenagers that were pumping large amounts of dollars into their coffers, and someone came up with the bright idea to make movies featuring teenagers in the leads. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Earth vs. the Spider, aka The Spider”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Best Friends

I knew nothing about this film when I began watching it. I found it on a YouTube channel that collects old grindhouse and drive-in movies that have fallen into the public domain. That copy was crap, but being in the public domain meant that the film could be found elsewhere. Amazon Prime has a much better quality copy, so should one actually want to seek out and watch this turd, I recommend doing so on Amazon. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Best Friends”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Hot Rod Girl

We viewers have been cheated! A 1950s flick with the title of Hot Rod Girl brings to mind all sorts of possibilities. Fast cars! Loose women! Police chases! Crime! Mayhem! Et cetera! What it does not bring to mind is a traffic safety film, which is about all this shitty movie amounts to.

From 1956, Hot Rod Girl comes to us via American International Pictures, that paragon of b-cinema. It was directed by Leslie H. Martinson (who would later direct the Adam West Batman movie), from a screenplay by John McGreevey. Both Martinson and Greevey spent the vast majority of their careers working in television, and that helps to explain this film’s strong resemblance to an after school special. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Hot Rod Girl”

Stallone Month: Paradise Alley

Before there was Rocky, there was Paradise Alley. That might not make any sense, since Paradise Alley was made two years after Rocky. But back in the mid-1970s, when Sylvester Stallone made his pitch to Rocky producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, this was the screenplay Sly wanted to make. They passed, but according to Sly, they said they would look at any other ideas he had. He went home that night and began to write Rocky. But there was still this screenplay out there, and after the success of Rocky, Sly was able to make this film. Not only did he write the screenplay, he also directed, starred, and, God help us, sang the opening theme song, Too Close to Paradise. All of this is very Orson Wellesian, in that it’s an overindulgent exercise in filmmaking, storytelling, and acting, but it doesn’t have the benefit of being any good. Continue readingStallone Month: Paradise Alley”

Stallone Month: Rocky

For no other reason than that I feel like it, I hereby declare this to be Sylvester Stallone Month here at Missile Test. For the next 31 days, this site will feature reviews of Sylvester Stallone films, from the early days of his career into the 2010s. I did this a few years back with Arnold Schwarzenegger because, not only do I like his films, I found myself fascinated with the progression of his career. I have a similar regard for Sly. Taken at face value, he’s just another action film star from the 1980s. But pay attention to the credits in his films, and one will find that he wrote and directed many of the films in which he appears. Sylvester Stallone is a filmmaker, and one who has been very successful in plotting his own course through Hollywood. Continue readingStallone Month: Rocky”