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”

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 reading “It Came from the ’50s: Revenge of the Creature”

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 reading “October 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 reading “It Came from the ’50s: The Snow Creature”

October Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)

What a classic drive-in schlockfest. From the Roger Corman stable, Piranha could have been just another cheap Jaws ripoff, à la The Last Shark. But Corman hired filmmakers with some genuine talent to write and direct. He was way too tight to give them a budget, but their skills allowed them to weave some shitty gold.

John Sayles wrote the screenplay and Joe Dante directed. This was very early in both their careers, and they have since gone on to greater things. But I wouldn’t call this a humble beginning. By 1978, when this flick was released, Corman had been in business for decades. The flicks he produces are not humble — they are just cheap. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)”

It Came from the ’50s: Creature from the Black Lagoon

This one is a classic. From 1954 comes Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s the story of a newly-discovered species of humanoid fish and man’s efforts to hunt it down and kill it.

Directed by Jack Arnold from a screenplay by Harry Essex and Arthur A. Ross, Creature follows a small scientific expedition that sets off up the Amazon River in search of fossils.

The exhibition began at the behest of Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno), a geologist who discovered the fossilized remains of a hybrid fish/humanlike appendage. It’s a revolutionary scientific discovery. Maia needs support, however, to search for any further remains. He finds that support in Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning) and Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson), a pair of ichthyologists. Joining them on the expedition are another scientist, Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell); Reeds’ assistant/fiancé Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams); boat skipper Captain Lucas (Nestor Paiva); and a gaggle of fodder for the monster. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: Creature from the Black Lagoon”

October Horrorshow: Haunting on Fraternity Row

What a vile, vile movie. It could have been worse. Oh, so much worse. But, this flick still managed to plumb the depths of taste, artistry, technique, and every other highfalutin term about film one can come up with. It’s the type of film that counts on awakening the hormonal 13-year-old boy in all of us. I’m not even sure 13-year-old boys would like this trash much, though.

Haunting on Fraternity Row comes to us via writer/director Brant Sersen and fellow screenwriter Jeff Cahn. Released last year, Haunting tells the story of a massive end-of-term fraternity house blowout that turns deadly when a ghost spoils the show. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Haunting on Fraternity Row”

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 reading “It Came from the ’50s: Killers from Space”

October Horrorshow: Pieces

At first glance, Pieces, the 1982 slasher flick from shitty auteur Juan Piquer Simón, is just like every other bottom-feeding Italian film that flooded the American market in the 1980s. Except for one thing. Pieces is not an Italian flick. It’s from Spain. All the hallmarks of a Lucio Fulci or Enzo G. Castellari film are present. The cast is from all over the map. Many read their lines in their native tongue, everyone was dubbed in post, and there was a cavalier attitude towards making sure if any of it synced. The production is low rent, but there’s lots of blood, and it’s so bright one could use it to see by night. And, while it takes place in the United States, it was very clearly filmed in Europe. So, just why does this film have the appearance of cheap Italian cinema of the day? Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Pieces”