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”

October Horrorshow: Vampire Circus

Vampire Circus didn’t make the cut two years ago for the October Hammershow, but now I wish it had. I watched some real stinkers that month, and Vampire Circus would have been a worthy replacement.

Hammer released Vampire Circus in 1972, placing it at the tail end of Hammer’s run. The cracks in Hammer were apparent by then. The formula they had been using for over a decade was showing less and less return at the box office, so Hammer turned to gratuitous nudity and more gore to try and boost sales. It didn’t work. But, even though it seems Hammer was turning somewhat desperate, they were still capable of releasing good horror flicks. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Vampire Circus”

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”

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: Impulse (1974)

A fun game to play when watching a William Shatner flick is to pretend that it’s not fiction, and that this is Shatner’s real life, post-Star Trek. This is helped by the fact that Shatner, not once, ever, was sublimated to the role. Like Al Pacino, Shatner is a larger than life actor whose personality dominated every part he played. That sounds like a bad thing, but so many of these duds Shatner were in would have been totally unwatchable without him. He singlehandedly saved many of the films he was in, including this one. His unique take on the craft of acting was truly special. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Impulse (1974)”

It Came from the ’50s: Attack of the Puppet People

I am shocked by this movie. Shocked, I tell you. Bewildered. Astonished. Flabbergasted. Not because Attack of the Puppet People is a great film. Oh, no. My surprise comes from the fact that despite this being a film from Samuel Z. Arkoff’s gristmill, American International Pictures, and despite it being produced and directed by shitty movie auteur Bert I. Gordon, this film does not suck. It’s low-rent, to be sure, and there are more than a few amateurish moments scattered throughout, but this flick is at least as good as contemporary television sci-fi. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Attack of the Puppet People”

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”

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”