It Came from the ’50s: The Screaming Skull

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 readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Screaming Skull”

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: Derelict

The abandoned South Fremantle Power Station outside of Perth, Western Australia, makes the old urbexer in me salivate. It’s a beautiful location on the outside, although inside it’s hollowed out and covered in sloppy graffiti. It was locations like this that made me get into urbex in the first place. The industrial giants of the past are true brick and stone monuments to the 20th century, and have since been subject to the ruthless cost-cutting of capitalism. It’s a set of architectural styles that will likely never appear again, as buildings and materials keep getting cheaper. Indeed, South Fremantle Power Station was closed in the 1980s, yet there it is, still standing, decades after all maintenance ceased. They built the place thirty years tougher than it needed to be, and counting. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Derelict”

October Horrorshow: Dead Trigger

What a putrid mess. Dead Trigger, from 2017 but resting on a shelf until this year, is an adaptation of a video game. It’s not the worst video game adaptation I’ve ever seen (that title belt is, and very well always could be, held by House of the Dead), but, it is a properly awful movie. It’s a good thing for the shitty movie fan that this film stars Dolph Lundgren, who has been gracing productions like this for over 30 years. The man is a shitty movie legend — the Tom Brady of bottom feeding dreck. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Dead Trigger”

October Horrorshow: Jack Frost (1997)

If a film has a decent poster, or even a passable poster, I will include it in a review. Hell, I’ve even gone lower than that, including many posters in reviews that are part of the orange/blue curse that has been infecting film worldwide for decades. How about when a poster is downright deceptive? Yes, if I think it’s cool. But, when a poster is deceptive, and what’s shown is worse than what it’s covering up for in the actual movie? No thanks. I don’t deal in that kind of propaganda. So, no film poster in this review. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Jack Frost (1997)”

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”

October Horrorshow: Paranormal Investigation

Just when I thought Amazon had cornered the market on films so obscure they don’t have Wikipedia pages, Netflix steps up their game. Paranormal Investigation, the 2018 found footage ghost flick from director Franck Phelizon, is so obscure that not only is it nowhere to be found on Wikipedia (as of this writing), its IMDb page is very sparse. There’s not a single cast member with an associated headshot, and most have only this film as their sole credit. I wish I could write in some greater detail about the cast, but that’s going to be difficult. The film’s credits are as sparse as its internet presence. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Paranormal Investigation”

It Came from the ’50s: The Snow Creature

The Snow CreatureThis isn’t W. Lee Wilder’s first film in this year’s Horrorshow, but I am getting sick of him in a way I never did with Bert I. Gordon during last year’s Horrorshow. Wilder’s films are no less tedious than Gordon’s, but unlike Gordon, Wilder showed no progress as a filmmaker. His films, in fact, seemed to grow more resistant to artistic growth with every one he made, and he still had eight more feature films to go before he called it quits.

The Snow Creature is an abominable snowman flick from 1954. Paul Langton plays botanist Dr. Frank Parrish, and Leslie Denison plays photographer and adventurer Peter Wells. The two of them lead a small expedition to the Himalayas to gather and study unknown plant species. With them are a Sherpa guide, Subra (Teru Shimada), and a group of porters.

One may notice that ‘Teru Shimada’ is not a Nepalese or Chinese name. It’s Japanese. In fact, all the Sherpas in this film were played by Japanese actors. They even speak their lines in Japanese. I wouldn’t categorize this as shitty filmmaking, but it’s definitely cheap, and perhaps lazy. I don’t imagine there were a whole lot of Sherpas available for a Hollywood casting call in the 1950s, but there has to be a better solution than just subbing one group of Asians for another and not caring if anyone notices. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Snow Creature”

It Came from the ’50s: Killers from Space

Killers from SpaceThere’s something that must be gotten out of the way before getting to the review proper. This film features an early scene with an Air Force jet flying around. Its call sign is “Tar Baby 2.” Yep. Tar baby is one of those terms that the people who use it insist is not racist. But, come on. It’s a very evocative term. I bet it was evocative in 1954, when this film was released, as well. Whatever the context and whatever the time, hearing it will make a modern viewer’s head turn, and is yet another surprise look into grandpa’s casual bigotry that these old flicks provide. Anyway…

Killers from Space is producer/director W. Lee Wilder’s follow-up to the terrible Phantom from Space. At least this flick doesn’t have the FCC driving around trying to save humanity. In this flick, that responsibility falls to Peter Graves, as Dr. Douglas Martin. He’s on the aforementioned racism jet as it circles a nuclear test in Nevada. All of a sudden, the plane crashes. Martin is given up for dead, but later he comes stumbling into town in a tattered flight suit. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Killers from Space”

It Came from the ’50s: Phantom from Space

It is possible to make a decent movie with a miniscule budget. But it takes, at least, a decent filmmaker to do so. W. Lee Wilder, unlike his brother, Billy, was no decent filmmaker. W. Lee Wilder, if Phantom from Space is any indication, was a corpse propped up in a chair.

Released in the spring of 1953, Phantom from Space looks super cheap. There are special effects in the opening scene showing a UFO descend upon the San Fernando Valley. It’s about the least convincing effect I’ve ever seen in a movie, and this reviewer has seen a lot of bad special effects. The effects in this flick are as bad as early Bert I. Gordon flicks. The only effect that really works is a floating space helmet, but that’s getting slightly ahead of things. There is a plot that needs explaining. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Phantom from Space”