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”

It Came from the ’50s: The Fly (1958)

Most of the films featured in the October Horrorshow: It Came from the ’50s reviews haven’t been all that good. Some have been downright cheap and awful. Such is the life of the shitty movie fan. But then there is something like today’s film, The Fly. I wouldn’t characterize it as a classic, other than in the sense that it’s old. Rather, it’s just a decent film from the time.

Released in the summer of 1958, The Fly was produced and directed by Kurt Neumann from a screenplay by James Clavell, who would go on to write some of the lengthiest novels known to man. There’s a plodding nature to this film that I think can be blamed partly on Clavell. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Fly (1958)”

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”

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: 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”

Giant Monstershow: Earth vs. the Spider, aka The Spider

The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow carries on! Today’s film is the sixth this month featuring b-cinema auteur extraordinaire Bert I. Gordon. The man made giant monster flicks his own cottage industry. That’s not too far off of the mark, considering Gordon would shoot effects in his own garage.

Today’s film is Earth vs. The Spider, also released as just The Spider. Released just a few months after War of the Colossal Beast, Earth vs. The Spider switches up the formula for giant monster flicks. Most of the films featured this past month have featured scientists and doctors as the main protagonists, or maybe a military man or two. This film does have those characters, but they’ve been relegated to supporting roles. In this flick, the heroes are teenagers. That’s right. By 1958, shitty filmmakers recognized that it was teenagers that were pumping large amounts of dollars into their coffers, and someone came up with the bright idea to make movies featuring teenagers in the leads. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Earth vs. the Spider, aka The Spider”

Giant Monstershow: War of the Colossal Beast

This is the fifth review this Horrorshow featuring a film from giant monster auteur Bert I. Gordon. It’s only fitting, then, that Missile Test makes it official. Bert I. Gordon, I declare thee the unofficial official filmmaker of this year’s October Horrorshow. Keep an eye out for a certificate in the mail.

War of the Colossal Beast, released in June of 1958, is the sequel to Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man. Gordon not only directed this film, he produced and shared a screenwriting credit with George Worthing Yates (who penned an amazing six b-movies in 1958 alone). Continue readingGiant Monstershow: War of the Colossal Beast”

October Hammershow: The Revenge of Frankenstein

The last we saw the Baron Frankenstein, at the end of The Curse of Frankenstein, he was being led to the guillotine. Believing that he was innocent of any crime, he was meeting death with hate in his heart. But as fate, and economics, would have it, Frankenstein was saved at the last moment by Hammer Film Productions, who knew a hit when they saw one. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Revenge of Frankenstein”