It Came from the ’50s: Revenge of the Creature

The folks at Universal Pictures must have been surprised when their 1954 schlock monster flick, Creature from the Black Lagoon, turned out to not only be good, but also a moneymaker. Turnaround was quicker back then, so just a year later producer William Alland and director Jack Arnold were able to premiere a sequel.

From a screenplay by Martin Berkeley, Revenge of the Creature follows another scientific expedition to the black lagoon. Nestor Paiva returns as Captain Lucas, the skipper of the boat the team takes. This sequence is brief. The creature is captured quickly and taken to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida, to live out the rest of its days as the star attraction. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Revenge of the Creature”

Giant Monstershow: 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 readingGiant Monstershow: Tarantula”

Empty Balcony: A Fistful of Dollars

I’ve been picking on Italian movies of late over in the Shitty Movie Sundays department. I can’t help it. I discovered Enzo G. Castellari recently and that opened the floodgates. Just about every week I find myself searching streaming services for another glorious train wreck from that most interesting of old world countries. It’s cinema devoid of shame, unapologetically opportunistic, and, to borrow a phrase from Tom Wolfe, gloriously low rent. Today’s film is not a cheap Italian knockoff designed to trick audiences into buying a ticket, though. Today’s film is a classic, even though its producers did find themselves on the wrong end of a plagiarism lawsuit. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: A Fistful of Dollars”

The Empty Balcony: Dirty Harry

Dirty HarryThe tough-nosed cop with a disdain for the rules is a staple in film. Always butting heads with desk-bound lieutenants and mayors more concerned with getting reelected than cleaning up the streets, this breed of law enforcement officer has little time for procedure or the niceties of due process. Largely a fabrication of Hollywood, this cop operates in a world where the worse the crime, the more likely the guilty will go free due to the dreaded plot device known as “technicalities.” It’s all the more galling because there is never any doubt to the audience or to the hero that the bad guy is bad. Letting the bad guy go free because his rights were violated is nothing less than a miscarriage of justice, and it’s always left up to the hero cop to right such grievous wrongs. No film comes to mind that explored these ideas more effectively than 1971’s Dirty Harry. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Dirty Harry”