It Came from the ’50s: It! The Terror from Beyond Space

When is a shitty movie not a shitty movie? When it’s super cheap, but also good. Such is the case with It! The Terror from Beyond Space, released in 1958.

We wrap up It Came from the ’50s with the movie that was the supposed inspiration for Alien. The story is similar. A spaceship from Earth sets down on another planet and picks up a stowaway alien with a thirst for blood. How the human spacefarers rid themselves of the alien is also similar. How the two films differ is in the small details. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: It! The Terror from Beyond Space”

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: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus

Beware a promising title, especially when it comes to shitty movies. There’s a good chance that a shitty movie won’t live up to its title, and could even be a bait-and-switch. Monster from Green Hell, from 1957, isn’t that most egregious of shitty filmmaking sins, but it is not nearly as good as the title.

The Green Hell of the title is a stretch of African jungle surrounding a volcano. The Monster which emerges from the Green Hell is a gigantic wasp, mutated by space radiation. It all began back in the states, in an isolated rocket science lab in the west. Dr. Quent Brady (Jim Davis, of Dallas fame), and Dan Morgan (Robert Griffin) are conducting experiments to determine the effects that exposure to space will have on future human space travelers. They do this by sending just about every animal they can find into space aboard rockets, then studying the animals after the rocket returns to Earth. There is a concern that all that radiation shooting around up in space will mutate those who are exposed to it. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus”

October Horrorshow: Crawl, or Go Gators!

Before today, I never once considered what it would be like to be trapped in a basement crawlspace with ravenous alligators during a category 5 hurricane. Now, I know. It’s pretty scary.

That’s the setting for Crawl, the creature feature from earlier this year from screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, and director Alexandre Aja.

The film follows Kaya Scoladerio as Haley, a swimmer at the University of Florida. A hurricane is bearing down on the area, but neither she, nor her sister up in Boston, have been able to get ahold of their father, Dave (Barry Pepper). There’s some family drama and token sappiness involving Haley and her father, but regardless, Haley decides to head down to the family homestead to check on the old man and make sure he’s still alive. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Crawl, or Go Gators!”

It Came from the ’50s: Fiend Without a Face

Once upon a time, I would have been impressed by seeing the Janus Films and Criterion Collection logos before the start of a film. But that has been dashed by the reaction I had to The Blob. Could Fiend Without a Face be another classic film with an inflated reputation? In short, yes. But, this film doesn’t have near the same disparity between reputation and actual quality as does The Blob. It’s just a b-movie, through and through. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Fiend Without a Face”

October Horrorshow: Frogs

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 readingOctober Horrorshow: Frogs”

It Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast

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 readingIt Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast”

October Horrorshow: Creep (2004)

Creep (the 2004 horror flick from the UK, not the 2014 film) will probably take the crown as the most disgusting film of this year’s Horrorshow. And it’s not because there’s an impressive amount of blood and gore. There is some blood and gore to be had, but it’s not all that much for a film like this. Most of what could comprise gore shots happens just off frame. What makes Creep so disgusting, what had me gagging once or twice, are its setting and filming locations. Creep takes place almost entirely in the London Underground and in the city’s sewers, and there was a lot of location work. Nasty. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Creep (2004)”

It Came from the ’50s: From Hell It Came

What a gloriously stupid movie. I’ll be honest. Many of the 1950s flicks in this month’s Horrorshow have been a real slog to get through. That’s really something, considering how many of them are only around an hour or so in length. Today’s ’50s flick is a short one, too, clocking in at only 71 minutes. It didn’t have much of a budget, either, so a decent amount of that short running time is spent expositing. But, without any reservations at all, From Hell It Came is an incredible shitty movie. It’s essential viewing for the shitty movie fan. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: From Hell It Came”

October Horrorshow: Split Second

Split Second, the 1992 flick from director Tony Maylam and screenwriter Gary Scott Thompson, has all the look and feel one would expect from low-budget Hollywood sci-fi schlock of the era. Everything is lit with colored gels, the film stock stinks, sets look cobbled together from whatever was piled out back behind the lumberyard, most location shots are dirty alleys, the original score is synthesized crap, and, in star Rutger Hauer, there is a fading Hollywood action flick veteran looking to pay some bills. In more ways than just this abbreviated list, Split Second is kin to the products of the Roger Corman gristmill, only this movie comes from England. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Split Second”