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 reading “It Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World”

It Came from the ’50s: 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 reading “It Came from the ’50s: Jack Frost (1997)”

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

October Horrorshow: Black Ops, aka Deadwater

Lance Henriksen is as old as dirt. He’s so old the primordial soup called him ‘daddy.’ He’s so old his grandkids had to teach him how to program the VCR. He’s so old he can tell the difference between Sarsaparilla and root beer. He’s so old…one gets the idea. In reality, he’s old but not that old. As of this writing, he’s 79. Well into old age, but not a doddering eldster, either. I bring this up because today’s horror flick, Black Ops, originally title Deadwater, was released straight to video in 2008, just a few weeks after the film’s star, Lance Henriksen, turned 68. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Black Ops, aka Deadwater”

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

October Horrorshow: The Blood Beast Terror

Hammer wasn’t the only production company making gothic horror films in England in the mid-20th century. Amicus productions dipped a few toes into the waters, as did Tigon, the company behind The Blood Beast Terror.

Released in 1968, Terror is all-but indistinguishable from contemporary Hammer productions, all the way up to its star, Peter Cushing. The only thing I could find that really separates this film from a Hammer production is that this film had a lower production quality. Hammer didn’t exactly break the bank when it came to financing their pictures, and one has to have a strong suspension of disbelief to watch them. Those familiar with Hammer films will know to what I’m referring. For everyone else, this film’s production issues are apparent in the questionable quality of the film stock, the poor sound quality of the rerecorded dialogue, and the plainness of the set decoration. It never feels as if this film inhabits the distant past, especially in moments when horse-drawn carriages trundle over asphalt pavement. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Blood Beast Terror”

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 reading “It Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)”

October Horrorshow: The Dead Hate the Living!

I haven’t seen a whole bunch of films from Full Moon Features, Charles Band’s production company, but they have had a couple great titles for their flicks. There’s Castle Freak, which is a more literal title than it appears at first glance; and Evil Bong, or, as it’s called in headshops all over America, Evil Water Pipe. Today’s horror flick has a title better than those two. In fact, it’s a title on par with Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things. Like Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, getting the title right was the high point of the production, unfortunately. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Dead Hate the Living!”

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

October Horrorshow: The Legend of Boggy Creek

Joe Bob Briggs, drive-in movie reviewer and movie host extraordinaire, once referred to this strange film as a ‘horror documentary musical reality show’, and that pretty well sums things up. But, in the interest of being thorough, and to stretch out this review to over 600 words, a little more detail is in order.

The Legend of Boggy Creek comes to us from way back in 1972. The brainchild of local Arkansas TV personality Charles B. Pierce, Boggy Creek, to add to Joe Bob’s flowing description, is a docudrama. It consists of dramatic recreations of encounters the people of Fouke, Arkansas had with a bigfoot-like creature in 1971. These stories were taken seriously enough to be featured in newspapers and on television. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Legend of Boggy Creek”