It Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus

Beware a promising title, especially when it comes to shitty movies. There’s a good chance that a shitty movie won’t live up to its title, and could even be a bait-and-switch. Monster from Green Hell, from 1957, isn’t that most egregious of shitty filmmaking sins, but it is not nearly as good as the title.

The Green Hell of the title is a stretch of African jungle surrounding a volcano. The Monster which emerges from the Green Hell is a gigantic wasp, mutated by space radiation. It all began back in the states, in an isolated rocket science lab in the west. Dr. Quent Brady (Jim Davis, of Dallas fame), and Dan Morgan (Robert Griffin) are conducting experiments to determine the effects that exposure to space will have on future human space travelers. They do this by sending just about every animal they can find into space aboard rockets, then studying the animals after the rocket returns to Earth. There is a concern that all that radiation shooting around up in space will mutate those who are exposed to it. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus”

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”

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”

Giant Monstershow: The Amazing Colossal Man

No sea beasts, dinosaurs, giant arachnids, or skyscraper-sized gorillas in today’s flick. The monster in today’s entry in the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow is a gigantic man.

The Amazing Colossal Man is the fourth film of this year’s Horrorshow, and the third released in 1957, from ’50s b-monster auteur Bert I. Gordon. The man found a niche, and stayed there until the box office returns started to dry up. From a screenplay by Gordon and Mark Hanna (who would pen Attack of the 50 Foot Woman the following year), The Amazing Colossal Man tells the tale of the unfortunate Glenn Manning (Glenn Langan), an army officer who is exposed to a nuclear blast during a test in the Nevada desert. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Amazing Colossal Man”

Giant Monstershow: The Black Scorpion

The poor performers in films like this. They come to a production, ready to put in enough work to make some mortgage payments, maybe dig a pool in the backyard, and they do a decent enough job. But then they go to the premiere of the film, with not the highest of expectations (after all, it ain’t John Ford or Howard Hawks they were working with), and they find the audience howling with laughter at the monster effects. Take a moment to appreciate the plight of the bad movie actor. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Black Scorpion”

Giant Monstershow: The Cyclops

Exactly one month after Beginning of the End was released in 1957, another epic Bert I. Gordon schlock-fest hit theaters. Both written and directed by Gordon, The Cyclops is about as worthless a film as this terrible filmmaker ever made…for half of its Spartan 65-minute running time. But then the titular cyclops finally appears onscreen, and all is forgiven. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Cyclops”

Giant Monstershow: Beginning of the End

The b-monster flick Beginning of the End marked the start of an epic year for filmmaker Bert I. Gordon. He directed not one, not two, but three giant monster movies in 1957. I’m impressed, but would be even more so had any one of these films looked like it took more than a week and a half to shoot.

Beginning of the End, from a screenplay by Fred Freiberger and Lester Gorn, tells the tale of a plague of giant locusts that descend on Chicago. For you readers in the American Midwest and points nearby, that’s ‘locusts’ as in real locusts, aka grasshoppers — not the colloquial locusts, aka cicadas. Either way, the bugs are about the size of city buses, with murderous appetites. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Beginning of the End”

Giant Monstershow: The Giant Claw

The Giant ClawIn the Arctic, vigilant eyes watch the skies. America is in a mortal conflict with communism. In order to protect the free peoples of the west, early warning stations have created an impenetrable net across the Arctic. Should the commies try anything, we’ll be ready. But, it’s not spy planes or ICBMs that menace the nation in this film. A giant monster from places unknown has appeared, and is wreaking havoc. If this sounds at all familiar, that’s because the setup to The Giant Claw is basically the same as yesterday’s giant monster film, The Deadly Mantis. The only major difference is in the monster. The Deadly Mantis featured a giant praying mantis, while The Giant Claw features…well, I’ll get to that.

Released in 1957, The Giant Claw comes to us care of writers Samuel Newman and Paul Gangelin, and director Fred F. Sears. This is the ninth giant monster flick of this year’s Horrorshow, and the pattern established by The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is getting somewhat wearying.

Something terrorizes isolated communities. Some dashing military officer or other authority figure is on hand to take charge of the situation. A scientist or doctor is also present to form wild, yet ultimately correct, hypotheses about what could be happening. Said scientist has an attractive assistant, who catches the eye of the square-jawed lead. Monster continues to attack, leading to a final confrontation in a major city in which the beast is dispatched. Make some cosmetic changes here and there, pick out some reels of stock footage that Bert I. Gordon overlooked, and one has a 1950s giant monster flick. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Giant Claw”

Giant Monstershow: The Deadly Mantis

The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow returns to the land of giant insects with today’s flick. From 1957, The Deadly Mantis is an early directorial effort from Nathan Juran, who had an Oscar-winning career as an art director before becoming a director. It was written by Martin Berkeley, who also had a screenwriting credit for the execrable Tarantula. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Deadly Mantis”