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”

It Came from the ’50s: The Monster That Challenged the World

Having done The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow last year, and now It Came from the ’50s this year, I have become more familiar with 1950s monster flicks than I ever thought possible. For good or bad, I know the differences between a Bert I. Gordon flick and a W. Lee Wilder shitfest. I’ve seen short ties and high waists. I’ve seen an endless procession of Stepford Wives clones, and a fair amount of casual misogyny. I’ve seen the arts of stop motion photography and papier-mâché used, abused, and taken to their absolute limits of usefulness. I’ve also seen the same plot and character tropes used over and over and over again. By the time today’s film, The Monster that Challenged the World, was released, in 1957, it looked as if these films were done by rote, with no regard for originality. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Monster That Challenged the World”

It Came from the ’50s: The Incredible Shrinking Man

I’m not sure if I like film titles that are such a literal description of the plot, but the title of this flick promises a shrinking man, and that’s just what viewers get.

The Incredible Shrinking Man was a hit back when it was released in 1957. It wasn’t a darling of the critics, but it has increased in reputation since, owing to some clever filmmaking from director Jack Arnold, and an above average screenplay by Richard Matheson, who was adapting his own novel. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Incredible Shrinking Man”

October Horrorshow: Rats: Night of Terror

With a title like Rats: Night of Terror, I was expecting a horror flick. What I was not expecting was a horror flick combined with a 1980s Italian post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick, in the same milieu as 1990: The Bronx Warriors or The New Gladiators. But, shitty film auteurs Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragasso appeared to have no qualms in marrying two different genres, even if it added just about nothing to the plot.

In the near future, in the year 2015, civilization was consumed by atomic war. Survivors retreated underground, where they would attempt to rebuild society safely hidden from the irradiated wastes above. But, some people chose to reject a life in tunnels and caves, and returned to the surface to brave the danger. Now, 225 years after the bombs fell, descendants of the surface survivors are traveling the wasteland in search of food and water. They’re a fashionable bunch of post-apocalyptic bikers, clad in mismatched bits of military uniforms, accessorized with bandoliers and weapons of various calibers. Despite the trappings, they don’t look all that tough. Dressing like an extra in The Magnificent Seven seems to be de rigueur in this bleak future. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Rats: Night of Terror”

It Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World

It Conquered the WorldRoger Corman was a better director than Bert I. Gordon. That’s obvious, of course. Roger Corman is a Hollywood legend, while Gordon is known only to us poor souls who like trash cinema. Corman’s reputation has been burnished by all the successful filmmakers that came through his stable, but he could trash it up with the worst of them. I mention Corman and Gordon in the same breath because today’s It Came from the 1950s entry is almost indistinguishable from the crap Gordon used to turn out. The only major difference is that Corman knew how to end a scene before things got too boring.

It Conquered the World was released in 1956, and was directed and produced by Corman from a screenplay by Lou Rusoff, who penned the execrable Phantom from 10,000 Leagues. This flick is miles better than Phantom, and it still stinks.

It stars Peter Graves as Dr. Paul Nelson, who works on a project launching America’s first satellites into orbit. One of his friends is Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef), a scientist disillusioned with the state of mankind. How fortunate for Dr. Anderson that he finds a friend in an alien being from Venus, one of the last of his race. The alien communicates with Anderson through a radio set in Anderson’s house. The alien is giving Anderson instructions to help pave the way for a Venusian takeover of Earth. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World”

It Came from the ’50s: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

For today’s entry in It Came from the 1950s, we have a film that tries its best to resemble its poorer cousins, but the overall sheen of competence cannot be hidden.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers comes to us via director Fred F. Sears and screenwriters Bernard Gordon and George Worthing Yates. Released in 1956, Saucers stars Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor as Russell and Carol Marvin. Russell is a scientist in charge of Project Skyhook, which is a series of unmanned research rockets launched into orbit. Carol is his wife and assistant. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers”

It Came from the ’50s: The Creature Walks Among Us

Universal had a hot property in The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and they understandably wanted to cash in on it some more. That led to a lazy sequel in Revenge of the Creature, and a silly mess in today’s ’50s flick, The Creature Walks Among Us.

Coming along a year after Revenge, in 1956, The Creature Walks Among Us is the first film in the series not to be directed by Jack Arnold. He had ambitions beyond directing b-flicks, if the internet is to be believed, so bowed out of the project. Directing duties were handled by John Sherwood, from a screenplay by Arthur A. Ross. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Creature Walks Among Us”

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)”

It Came from the ’50s: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues

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 readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues”

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”